Portfolio Category - LCEA 2013
J.W. Fike’s Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals
of the North American Continent
Within my system the plant is excavated, arranged in the studio, photographed, then illustrated digitally in such a way as to render the edible parts in color while the remaining parts, less emphatically, read as photograms. The plants in these images hover above an infinitely black space, referencing both contact prints of botanical specimens from the dawn of photography and the collective unconscious. The 1:1 ratio of the photographs and high resolution color-coding speak to hyper-realistic, virtual and scientific modes of imaging. The photographs serve as an archive for an uncertain ecological future, reliable guide for foraging, and meditative symbols in communion with philosophical, spiritual and ecological truths.
While this type of art may appear atavistic, its redeployment, in the precise moment of history, is vitally relevant to environmental issues. These edible plants grow all around us, in yards, alleys, ditches, and empty lots. Each testifies to our symbiotic evolution with all of life, and functions as poetic metaphor and concrete proof of our intimate tether to the natural world. It is my hope that this art foments contemplative wonderment by offering viewers both information and insights that if realized kindle a reconnection to the natural world and a mystical counterbalance to scientific objectivism.
I envision this as a thorough catalogue that will result in one hundred photographs. The aesthetic consciously combines empirical and visionary traditions by taking advantage of digital imaging’s capacity to create rhetorical shifts in the photograph. The resulting images are elegant, layered, historically aware and able to evoke mystery, amplify interconnectedness and offer a critique of classical taxonomy.