The Luminous Landscape Grant
Oren Darling - Indiana, United States
I am a 34 year old artist living in Indiana. I am the creative manager for a scientific research non-profit. I completed my MFA in Electronic and Time Based Art at Purdue University in 2015. My primary photographic influences are Robert Frank, Sebastiao Salgado, and Louis Draper. Almost all of my work is shot with 35 and 50mm equivalent prime lenses on a rangefinder and I rarely travel with more.
Climate change is the most pressing scientific and social issue currently in front of us, which rightfully attracts the attention of many creative projects. Inflection/Reflection is my attempt to step back from the more specific issue of climate change with the goal of examining and documenting our transition into the Anthropocene Epoch. We live in an unprecedented moment in history where for the first time we are witnesses to (and triggers of) an inflection point such as this. Climate may be the most prevalent symptom, but it remains only one part of the story.
Inflection/Reflection began with seeing humanity at a crossroads and has evolved into the concept of humanity caught in a liminal space between the Holocene and Anthropocene. Liminal spaces are thresholds, points of transition and doubt about future outcomes which are rendered more powerful by a loss of the previous order and structure.
This project does not aim to exclude climate change as a topic, but rather to document the complex relationships of humans with the planet at this moment in history. Like many projects, it is a call for preservation, documentation, and action. My goal is to create a three-part body of work to serve as a point of reflection upon the natural landscapes we have both preserved and are rapidly losing, the engines and byproducts of modernization which have consumed these lands, and the intersection of human lives (in both joy and pain) with looming catastrophe.
As Dieter Roelstraete contends in his philosophical comparisons of archaeologists and artists, we must begin to consider how our work will be uncovered and interpreted in the future. My intent is for Inflection/Reflection to preserve the feeling of liminality that we are collectively experiencing today. There are countless projects which provide incredible documentation of nature which will no longer exist or may be radically different in the near future. What my project attempts to address is carefully framing this loss of beauty within our collective gasp of clarity, triumph, confusion, and desperation.
I travel extensively and my camera never leaves my side, therefore I have already shot the bulk of the images that are necessary. Although Inflection/Reflection will continue beyond what I hope to accomplish with this grant, I feel that in order to move into the second phase I need to initiate some form of closure on my work to the present. A small portion of this grant will support travel and a weekend of accommodations to photograph industrial sections of Detroit, which is a moderate drive from where I currently live. The bulk of the grant will be used to produce a high-quality, limited run book, which I hope will help me to launch a solo-exhibition.
Virtually the entire amount (minus the short trip to Detroit) will go directly to production costs of the book. I have extensive experience in graphic design, page layout, pre-press, and print production. Iíve already begun image selection and have been compiling cost quotes for a variety of page count, cover material, and print quality options with publishing houses. The only hurdle for me to overcome is financing the production costs.
The photos I have uploaded represent a small sampling of possible choices for the three sections of the book that I outlined above, but are not necessarily intended to be seen in these specific groupings.