Sharon Harper deliberately challenges the objective, scientific reality of photography in this delightful book of her chance-inspired artistic visions of the heavens.
She combines long time exposures with multiple exposures, and moves the vantage point of the camera in between, and often waits for hours, days, weeks or months to layer another exposure onto the same piece of 4 x 5 film.
The results are fanciful marvels, setting the whirling stars and sun and moon on changing, colliding trajectories behind luminous clouds and mists — or set against crystal sharp skies. She uses the visual language of scientific study to undermine its authority, or rather, to make us question assumptions about our own perceptions and about nature.
The size and design of the book allow the reader to feel immersed in Harper’s creations, and a generous section at the back of the book reproduces notebook pages from her artistic experiments. These field notes look like those of a mad scientist, or a composer’s scribbled score for a frenetic new musical work. And they let us into the playful, thoughtful mind of the artist as she concocts a new notion.
From Above and Below features work from seven distinct series: Moonfall (As Imagined by the Off-Duty Ferryman in flight over the River Styx), 2001, Moon Studies and Star Scratches, 2003 – 2008, One Month, Weather Permitting, 2009, and Twelve Hours from Winter and Spring, 2009, Sun/Moon (Trying to See through a Telescope), 2010 – Ongoing, and stills from the video piece Landshift, 2012.