The Western United States (from the perspective of European settlers) was initially written in pen (journals and map making) and with the view camera following the Louisiana Purchase. These historic and groundbreaking bodies of work were weaponized and utilized in Washington for funding the simultaneous expansion of industry and protection from industry, marking the the eventual disappearance of the land that these works so eloquently described. Conversely, such works were also used in inspiring the construction of our National Parks system and the preservation of particular landmarks as cultural monuments. I wanted to make a work that was both about light and the absence of light, perception and embodiment, representation and invisibility.
Black Mountain Detachment: Two Nights, From Waxing to Fully Stated (2008), for example, reinterprets the hanging walls of part of the Black Mountain Range in California. Over a period of two nights, my camera remained fixed in position, recording a singular portion of the mountain range and its adjacent valley floor, as the moon rose from behind the ridge, illuminating the horizontal ground, and obscuring, or erasing the mountains façade by leaving it in darkness. The lens was opened for the three and a half hour period that the waxing moon illuminated the valley floor while keeping the face of the mountain in silhouette, and then the process was repeated again on the following night, in full moonlight, on the same sheet of film. This simple gesture attempted to conflate a key exchange between illumination and seeming nonappearance, while pushing against the notion that a photograph necessarily marks a singular moment in time.
The photograph is housed in an artist-made, trapezoidal frame. The top horizontal is larger than the bottom horizontal. Similar to the slope of hanging walls that make up the now erased mountains façade, this picture leans, supported by the wall where it is shown. The additional distance of the top horizon that this slant creates from the eye of the viewer corrects for this keystone, affording the rectilinear effect that photographic conventions are accustomed to.