Christopher Rodriguez

Title: Afterlife

About the Photo:

I photograph our familiar landscape with the intention of portraying it as if it has never been seen before. Inspired by the enlightened perspective of 19th century naturalist Alexander Humboldt, I reflect on our evolving relationship to a fundamentally changed nature. Rocks, flora and other life forms are rendered in augmented lighting as ‘‘Humboldt’ like characters measure earth’s phenomena. The photographs celebrate the ambiguous territory between an imaginary and documented landscape. My intent is to conjure the world of the Afterlife.

‘Afterlife’ refers to a newly revived state of exhausted nature, a future–new potential for life and discovery. The world is very different from the one Humboldt documented as every corner of the earth has been seen or altered. Pollutants blanket every inch of every landscape. Threatened ecosystems abound. Our relationship to nature has been inverted, because the future of environmentalism will ironically rely on human interventions in nature.

Considering how someone from the past would look at our current landscape melds the actual world with a fictitious one. Humboldt came to know nature mainly through acts of observation, whereas my approach uses interventions with a camera and artificial lighting.
Challenging colors’ representational qualities allows me to work within an ambiguity, between what is seen and what is made, and to undermine our expectations of what is natural. Some of the images are more documentary, while others are much more constructed and I like that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

A relevant landscape photograph today should be fabricated as much as it is seen. As Stewart Brand noted, in the 19th century the act of discovery was about finding and in the 21st century, the act of discovery is about making.