LensWork Publication Skills Grant

Past Winner

Edge of Chaos

David Ricci - MA, United States

The Edge of Chaos is a series of several bodies of work connected not by subject or subject matter, but by a compositional style in which I try to orchestrate a plethora of visual elements.
At the heart of these photographs is my attempt to recognize an unexpected elegance at sites generally thought to be aesthetically barren, to hear the music buried beneath the noise, to discover those mystical, magical moments found at The Edge of Chaos.

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Early in my career I worked in a sparse formalist style, trying to perfect what seemed to be the universally accepted understanding of “good” photographic composition – move in close, crop tightly, eliminate superfluous objects from the field of view. As my vision became more refined and I immersed myself in studying art and its history my compositions became increasingly more complex. Gradually, I included a greater number of visual elements in the frame, trying to develop a unique approach to image-making, a personal style based in complex formal structures. Utilizing a variety of strategies – repeated motifs of shape or color, networks of contoured lines, layers of spatial planes, flattening into two dimensions, juxtaposing objects separated in space, I try to orchestrate a plethora of visual elements to create photographs that resonate with gesture, pattern and rhythm. My goal is to make images that stand on their own, reveal themselves over time, and offer something new upon repeated viewings.
Over the years I have produced several bodies of work using this approach: scenes captured at abandoned amusement parks revealing an unexpected elegance; photographs of building demolitions, dismantled factories and natural disasters that speak of loss and devastation; images of scrap metal heaps and recycling centers that comment on our consumer society; a portfolio titled “Thicket” that uses brush, branches and weeds to make a purely formalist statement; my most recent project photographing commercial fishing vessels and riggings that evoke the working waterfront.
While I have exhibited these portfolios as distinct bodies of work, I think of my work as one continuous thread, an evolution of picture-making that has always been part of my adult life. With such a broad spectrum of subject matter, clearly these portfolios aren’t tied together by content or a particular sense of place. Rather, they are joined by a continuing progression of a personal style fueled by my belief that there is an underlying rhythmic pulse in the universe which, at particular locations and moments, is manifested visually in that enchanted space where order and chaos merge - that magical place that I call “Edge of Chaos”, where a loosely ordered whole emerges from the mass of randomness, the rubble, the dense canvas of visual data.
Although I have exhibited my prints extensively in galleries and museums, the overarching goal of Edge of Chaos has been to publish a book. The current design includes a suite of six bodies of work with accompanying text. The images I have submitted for the LensWork Publication Skills Grant represent a small sample from each of the six sections of the book. My intent is to self-publish and print 50 high quality books, many of which will be used to shop the book to publishers to secure a larger print run and much greater distribution. I would also like to develop an e-version of the book.
The main use of the Lenswork Publication Skills Grant will be to acquire professional software (Adobe InDesign CS6) and receive training at The Center for Digital Arts in Boston, MA in Typographic Principles/Systems with Adobe InDesign and book layout/packaging workshops in order to allow me to have creative control over the design and packaging of the books.



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