A series of highly magnified plant sections offered as homage to the natural death cycle and its inherent potential for beauty.
The idea came about simply enough -- I kept some tulips (given as a Mother's Day gift) past the usual timeframe we display cut flowers. This guarantees them to be seen "in their prime."
The stems twisted and curled from drying, and then drooped downwards; I saw more potential for beauty in the 'dying' forms than from their pristine stage at the time of delivery. I began to think about flowers as metaphors for life's later stage of age and even death. I recalled photography has been used to preserve likeness through postmortem photographs. I’ve been influenced by Frederick Sommer, Emmet Gowin, and more recently by Sally Mann's dark and beautiful series "What Remains."
The initial concept for the series was also as an homage to a recently "dead film," Polaroid's Positive/Negative 55. I started with about 180 sheets of this film and began the series knowing it would end when I used up the remaining film stock. At this point I have about 20 sheets remaining, so the project is very near its completion. I'm also using optics from a past era, mostly late 19th century, but also early (and a few from mid-) 20th century lenses.
I don't think these images are dark or morbid, but instead a means to explore the inevitable end of all living things and a way to find beauty and solace through the process.
I have acquired 80 more sheets of PN55, so the project continues into a second series, focusing exclusively on native plants and their "architectural" designs are emphasized. These designs ensure the survival of the species and have developed over time as a means to "spread their seed."
To see more of the first series, go to:
Since the turn of the 21st century a growing movement in photography have embraced hand-crafted images, ranging from traditional silver prints to 19th century media such as platinum, palladium, collodion, daguerreotype, and gum printing. In each case, the final print medium is carefully considered for its appropriateness to the artist’s intent. Further choices of lens, film type, and camera are equally important parts of the creative process.
These trends are growing despite a massive change to digital technologies within contemporary photographic practice. I am critiquing this trend in my artwork by drawing historical parallels to this period of technological expansion; meant as a polemic on the trend of quickly adopting technologies and the resulting shifts in artistic practice and the relationships to our materials. Should this be considered “normal” social/cultural progress? My work embraces the Pictorialist period for inspiration and methodology, but not subject matter. I’ve concluded I prefer my art employ the medium of photography, rather than a digital technology. I want something I can manipulate and coax a chemical performance from… directed primarily by my intentions and desires for the image, and not a software program controlling the recording of light “data.” With the alleged demise of indexical recording (photographic truth), could there be a better time for a return to allegory and symbolism? Using antiquarian optical tools — specifically soft-focus lenses in combination with a historic printing process, I’m interested in exploring both personal “equivalents” (as crafted by Alfred Steiglitz and Minor White).
My current work begins with landscapes that resemble drawings as much as photographs. I’m happy to reconsider that which photography’s inventor, Sir William Henry Fox-Talbot, termed “photogenic drawing” and look at my compositions with an eye towards the line qualities within each.
I’m creating content that is a balancing act between known and unknown forms, primarily trees and forest-scapes. I’m looking at the subject for gestural qualities and employ focusing techniques with antiquarian optics designed for portraiture that allow for both soft and sharp details, hoping to create a new experience for the viewer. My goal is to give the viewer a minimalistic understanding what is being viewed, but simultaneously introducing a perplexing space that evokes mystery.
Underlying all my imagery is a sense of maturation and aging, a self-portrait of my perspective that looks to natural forms for metaphors of the human life cycle. Most of the images are references to my own life – trials, tribulations, relationships, loss, and the notion that we are all organisms seeking light and survival.
This series is ongoing. I've driven 20,000+ miles in the past two years traveling across the country (mostly westward)
making photographs of plants, trees, rocks, and weathered surfaces. I'm producing salt and gum-bichromate prints of the images.
To see more, please visit:
To see more: http://www.darrylbaird.com/rr.html
As the Detroit metropolitan area increases in size, now encompassing a geographic region of 870 square miles, demand for small town life (better schools, less traffic and crime, etc.) has accounted for a particular type of housing demand and development. The computing distance is now over one hour for half of the daily driving workforce, yet the trade-off of land (often with horses), waterfront sites, or just more house for the money have spurred a demand for property in outlaying, former lake-resort communities, like Fenton, Michigan where I live.
A modern environmental irony is represented by this shift, as the usage of waterfront and watershed related properties have increased, so have the problems of maintaining and preserving the natural health and beauty of the landscapes so in demand. The current architectural details of a newly built lake house rivals excesses of inner-urban, high-demand areas – zero-lot boundaries, multi-story designs, large garages (for boats and other recreational vehicles), paved driveways, and finely developed landscape designs. All of these produce unforeseen consequences of contaminating the water, wetlands, and ground water that feed the larger bodies of water. According to current study, pollution in rural areas is shifting from farming to development. From the Center for Disease Control Study of 2004,
“Water quality may be affected in several ways. With better control of "point sources" of water pollution -- factories, sewage treatment plants, and similar facilities -- "non-point source" water pollution has emerged as the major threat to water supplies. Non-point source water pollution occurs when rainfall or snowmelt moves over and through the ground, picking up contaminants and depositing them into surface water \(lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters\) and groundwater.
Much of this problem is specific to agricultural land, the primary source of contamination by fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides. However, growing form of non-point source pollution include oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from roadways, parking lots, and other surfaces, and sediment from improperly managed construction sites, other areas from which foliage has been cleared, or eroding stream banks. Studies of the movement of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, zinc, and organic waste suggest that suburban development is associated with high loading of these contaminants in nearby surface water.
The two most obvious sources of trouble are inadequate sewage management and yard nutrient (fertilizer) runoff, each contributing to choking growth of aquatic plant life within the lakes and streams themselves and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to combat.
My work covers eight years of documenting the continued development and pollution of the watershed and bodies of water in the outlying areas of southeast Michigan.
If one of the great powers of photography is the staving off of loss...of places, persons, or times, then to transcend that loss is to remain connected to the essence of something lost we (now) see in those images. But what is in those images—those of particular importance to us? What is underneath ancestors and loved ones’ likenesses? What is felt or unconsciously known when we look at these ghosts? Is there a language or communication in this photographic form? This last question is the most interesting of all. This is where my work directs me.
I was strongly influenced by both Roland Barthes and John Tagg as I began work on this series. The series has been revisited, revised, and expanded over the past fourteen years.
To see more, including the followup, Transcending Loss II, go to:
Remarkably, instead of facilitating an extension of human sight, the fantastic recording ability of photography has helped create a complex system of social and cultural imagery that reduces every conceivable person, place, or thing in the visible world into an aesthetic form. The net result to culture is a reduction of our world to static images, crafted to stimulate precise, calculated responses. In contrast to revealing further information of our physical existence, the photographic image short-circuits the process of empirical knowledge and substitutes a system of competing and often contradictory visual agendas. The formation of our identities through this process is of particular interest to me and I retell a small part of my own creation by including images of myself.
In order to comment on our image conscious culture, I crafted complex and visually seductive images containing layers of imagery to represent the many competing practices within contemporary popular photography. By combining diverse visual elements, I’m commenting on the multiplicity of purposes and disciplines at work in mainstream visual culture. The complexity of each image and the confusion and contradictions between images and text mirror the current stupefying quality of cultural imagery.
To see more, go to: http://www.darrylbaird.com/ah.html
I love photography, it's history, social influence, and the enormous range of possible media choices and processes. I've explored many ideas through my photographs and intend to continue this activity until I can't see or walk or breathe. From this perspective it might be easy to see why my work doesn't easily fit into a single category or style. My appetite for images and image-making cannot be satisfied with a singular approach. Eclectic is my "norm."
Originally from Dallas, Texas Darryl Baird has a forty-year career as a photographer and educator.
His initial education was at the United States Naval School of Photography in Pensacola, Florida. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Broadcast-Film Arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He worked for twenty years as a commercial architectural, advertising, and editorial photographer. He left the commercial field for graduate school, first in a doctoral program in Aesthetic Studies at the University of Texas-Dallas and later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Photography at the University of North Texas.
?Darryl is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Michigan-Flint continuing the graphic design and photography programs he founded. He formerly served as chair of the Communication and Visual Arts department and the Midwest Region of the Society for Photographic Education.
He is currently working across a wide spectrum of techniques and media, from large format (8x10) using vintage 19th century optics and antiquarian processes to high-definition digital video output. ??His work is included in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Art, Museum of Fine Art Houston , and the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and Carnegie Museum of Art.
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