Exhibition: The Landscape of Time and Place
Christopher Burkett, photographs from Resplendent
Light Debra Bloomfield, photographs from Four Corners
Eadweard Muybridge, photographs from Animal Locomotion
Dates: November 9 - December 31, 2004
Reception: Saturday, November 13th, 7-10 p.m.
Book signing: Saturday, November 13th, 7-10 p.m.
Location: Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Avenue Hours: 11-5
Tuesday - Saturday 11-7 Thursday Contact: Jerre Johnston 520/624-7370
Contents: From pioneer-innovator Eadweard Muybridge's studies of animals and humans in motion, and Debra Bloomfield's images of earth, sky, mesas and saints, to Christopher Burkett's lyrical allure of light filled places, the photographic images in The Landscape of Time and Place capture the universality of the essence of Nature and the process of trying to see the world as it truly is.
Eadweard Muybridge: The nature and pattern of motion are the hallmarks of the great pioneer-innovator of the 19th century, Eadweard Muybridge. One of the great turning points in scientific, technological, and scientific thought, Muybridge's images of animals and humans in motion were published 100 years after completion in three volumes of 20,000 photographs (only 37 sets are still extant, most of them incomplete). Muybridge began his major work in 1884, producing an estimated 20,000 negatives, arranged in 781 plates of animals and humans in motion. The original Animal Locomotion was published in eleven volumes in 1887. Valuable both as scientific data and striking imagery in themselves, his subjects are often engaged in myriad activities: tigers pace, birds fly, horses leap, men, women, and children (clothed and unclothed) walk, run, jump and pour tea.
Muybridge simultaneously photographed each subject from several different points of view with batteries of as many as 12 to 36 cameras and his own electromagnetic tripping device resulting in exposures in stop-motion sequence. These images consist of 781 plates (each plate a two-page spread) of nearly 300 separate actions split into as many as 50 individual shots per action. As the single greatest reference for dynamic anatomy in permanent form Muybridge‚s collotypes are as valuable to students, artists, scientists, and photographers as they are to collectors who revere the images revered for their graphic qualities. The colloytpe, a photomechanical printing process with an extremely fine grain is of such high quality that they are often difficult to distinguish from the original photograph.
To complete his still shots of motion Muybridge devised a machine that projected, in rapid sequence, drawings made from his photographs. The Zoopraxiscope (1879) was an important forerunner of the motion picture film projector. Called the godfather of moving pictures, Mobridge's cinematic imagery is a classic achievement in the history of photography that has never been duplicated.
Christopher Burkett: Formal poise and lushly nuanced colors characterize the intimate ambience of Christopher Burkett‚s photographs. Burkett spends hours in the darkroom coaxing sharp detail, rich color, and subtle tonal transitions from the intimate views of the landscapes he prefers. Rather than focusing on panoramic vistas, the angles he chooses fall on frosty, fallen leaves or wild apples on a tangle of tree branches, evoking a contemplative response from the viewer. Burkett's images carry the sensuous immanence of nature within the context of the well-ordered formal arrangement of pictorial structure. Shooting primarily with an 8 x 10 view camera, from which he prints 30x40 Cibachrome prints, Burkett starts at first light and winds up after sunset, accumulating the natural light of the day. Capturing yellow-tinged lily pads on a blue mill pond can take two weeks, at other times the flash of insight mingled with a moment of light under a dark sky results in single shot that occurs once in a lifetime.
Burkett's work in the printing trade, where he specialized in four-color printing, helped in the development of his advanced printing techniques, one of which is his unique use of multiple-stage masking for Cibachrome printing. Born in 1951 and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Burkett has transformed photographic technique into a spiritual endeavor. In 1975, while he was a brother in a Christian order, he became interested in photography as means of expressing the grace, light, and beauty, present in the world of nature. It was here that he realized the goal and purpose of his photography, as he states, to provide a brief if somewhat veiled, glimpse into that clear and brilliant world of light and power. The compelling visual quality of Burkett‚s work is further elicited by Vincent Rossi in the preface to Burkett's book, Intimations of Paradise, In his willingness to go to amazing lengths to find the right subjects in the right circumstances of light, color and composition, one can clearly see that this artist has caught a glimpse of the lost paradise in the natural world. In Resplendent Light, James L. Enyeart speaks of the light that surrounds and defines Christopher Burkett's newest works, the detailed realism of his subjects, bathed; as they are in a light that few people have ever observed in Nature, arrests the flow of time as much as painting of hummingbirds in flight.
Debra Bloomfield In her new book of photographs, Four Corners, Bloomfield chronicles the sweeping vistas of the Four Corners region of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah dipping as far south as Sedona in Arizona and White Sands in southern New Mexico. In addition to the magical effects of captured light, her vision of the land incorporates sacred sights, Catholic religious iconography from Truchas and Chimayo in New Mexico as well as images of Native American spirituality as seen in petroglyphs and medicine wheels.
As Douglas Nickel states in his introduction to Four Corners, Bloomfield's photographs seem predicated upon the possibility that something like an authentic experience of the region can still be snatched from the interstices of what the place has become is becoming. They are hopeful that way. Her subject matter has to do with the experiential as witnessed in the experience of fragility, of evanescence, of twilights, clouds, leaves, and candles, things that, like faith, are wonderful to behold, in part because of our awareness of how easy it is for them to blow away or go out. As Mary Oliver laments, "It is one of the perils of our so-called civilized age that we do not acknowledge enough, or cherish enough, this connection between soul and landscape between our own best possibilities, and the view from our own windows."
Debra Bloomfield's career in photography spans three decades and includes a wide range of work. Her images often explore the relationship between interiority and the external world. Larger-scale compositions often traverse the line between painting and photography. Bloomfield's work is represented in numerous museum collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Contemporary Museum of Art Honolulu, Hawaii, the Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. An educator in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1977, Bloomfield is currently teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute and Solano College. She lives in Berkeley, California.