"People aren’t the apex species they think they are. Other creatures-bigger, smaller, slower, faster, older, younger, more powerful-call the shots, make the air, and eat sunlight. Without them, nothing." From The Overstory by, Richard Powers
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All prints are handmade, one of a kind, unique silver prints that are made into small editions and printed on 100 year Chromogenic paper.
Thomas Brummett's new images, the series "Nocturne," might appear to viewers familiar with his work (particularly with the 2003 series "Diatoms") as a departure from the artist's preferred subjects and themes. Earlier prints and photographs - while linked in their fascination with the natural world - played on the ethereal, even unsettling, qualities of nature. Seedpods came to seem like specimens; desert plants could look like underwater landscapes; the diatoms, scientific specimens of algae, even combine these qualities. Brummett's process has long been to create one-of-a-kind silver prints, through a combination of darkroom techniques. In the past, the IRIS printer was used to create limited edition prints of these images, thus continuing the artist's exploration of the connections between nature, technology, and reproduction.
So where do what might be termed "traditional" landscapes, reminiscent of Corot and other nineteenth-century plein air masters, fit into Brummett's body of work? From what place do pines, oaks, clouds, and sky emerge to take center stage?
Take a closer look. As with all of Brummett's imagery, that which is immediately seen is not all the viewer is meant to see. These new landscapes the artist has created - or, rather, constructed - are directly influenced by his earlier preoccupations with the tensions between nature and technology, man and the universe, seeing and representation. In many ways, they are the logical next step in Brummett's exploration of the world and its visualization.
First, the process by which these images are created remains largely intact. Brummett still opts to shoot his images traditionally and then use the darkroom almost as a painter employs his palette - to create a singular artistic vision of nature. However, an additional step is included; the photographic image is scanned and greatly enlarged to capture minute marks not immediately visible in the "original". The prints, then, with their muted, almost sepia-toned, palette and mottled appearance, bear a sequence of marks, both natural and hand made, and reveal that which is not immediately grasped by the naked eye. In this way, Brummett's work diverges from that of the French landscapists and assumes a connection with his own earlier explorations. Yet I would submit that what is fundamentally unchanged in these images - and the element from which they derive their visual power - is Brummett's reverence for the sheer magnificence of the natural. It isn't necessary to find odd, unusual, or hidden natural elements from which to extract and shape a physical beauty. Sometimes a re-presentation of the familiar produces a sense of wonder and a new experience for the viewer. Brummett may indeed be indebted to earlier landscape traditions in the formal arrangement of these pieces, in the end, however, the force with which he convinces us to truly look, to truly see the natural world, is his own.
Dr. Sabrina DeTurk
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