Walking in Antarctica
In 2015, I photographed ice formations and geological formations in Antarctica at remote wilderness locations as a grantee of the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. I spent seven weeks in Antarctica, accompanying scientists in the field. The works submitted with the application are from that project. Photography offers me a way to apply insights derived from science, notably complexity theory and fluid dynamics, and record the visual traces that reveal how water and wind have shaped the land. I am attuned to the details that reveal underlying physical processes and patterns that science has taught me to notice. In terms of content, I'm familiar with the corpus of Antarctic and Arctic photography and am determined to avoid the clichés. Part of that is accomplished by exploring abstractions and the ambiguities of scale that take place when zeroing in on small-scale details. Having spent time with scientists, I am primed to notice places that reveal interactions of forces within the ecosystem, and where surprising beauty can be found that is not necessarily conventionally "scenic." . The power of striking images and eyewitness accounts to raise awareness and motivate people to preserve wilderness has been understood by environmentalists as long ago as the 19th century. When I exhibit my artwork, people tell me it has altered their "flat and white" image of the continent and showed them a far richer and more engaging environment than they imagined. Very few people will ever visit Antarctica, so the main vehicle for providing an experience of its beauty is images brought back and disseminated by witnesses such as myself. As detailed in my Background, I have already been successful at gaining exhibition and publication opportunities for this work. My guiding principle is one that has been articulated by sustainability advocate Lance Hosey: "Aesthetic attraction is not a superficial concern — it's an environmental imperative. Beauty could save the planet."