This Land is Your Land
The United States Forest Service issued a proposal to limit image making on public lands designated as wilderness areas. If approved, image makers would be required to apply for a permit costing as much as $1500.00 or face fines of $1000.00 per image. There would also be limits as to how those images could be used, even with a permit. The goal of my project is to register my fierce objection to this proposal and to educate and inspire other image makers and wilderness visitors through both the presence and absence (denial) of this natural beauty. Ultimately this project is about asserting my rights through the use of natural color and light.
My original concept was to offer images with a lot of variation to illustrate the wide variety of people affected by this proposal. However I quickly realized that this wouldn’t work. A suggestion was made early on to use a black curtain to block the image of these beautiful areas and ultimately I realized that this was the way the project needed to be done. It was a difficult decision to make because covering these views is antithetical to the passion I feel for them, but the passion I have for liberty, for the freedom to pursue what is rightfully mine, along with the desire to share my outrage over the denial of that right, ultimately helped me to accept this as the right path to pursue.
I took images of beautiful landscapes in natural light low on the horizon. There is a natural play of warm/cool contrast, using saturated but natural colors to carry the story. These magnificent views were then blocked by a heavy black curtain obstructing what the viewer aches to see. The symbolic use of the color black denotes death of the artistic process, of the image itself, and also the perceived evil of the federal government. The project is assisted reality due to the addition of the black curtain, but otherwise shot as if shooting beautiful landscapes for commercial use.
Color and light are an absolutely integral part of this project, and were used to evoke emotion in the viewer. If the color used were soft and ethereal there would be no visual punch: using low wavelength natural light as well as boosting the color in post-processing for aesthetic value enabled me to heighten the emotional response to the black curtain. Visual tension is created by blocking the view, and this tension was purposefully left unresolved to create a sense of discomfort and a call to action.
This has been a remarkable personal journey both literally (over 6000 miles put on my car) and figuratively.
This land is, indeed, made for you and me, and we must not be denied the right to celebrate it. This project took me from the Sonora Desert to the Redwood Forest, from Death Valley to the Sedona Red Rocks, from Yosemite to Arches National Park, and many other amazing places. These are truly spiritual spaces that everyone should have the opportunity to experience and it is my hope that through the inspired use of color and light this project helps viewers to understand what is truly at stake and emboldens them to refuse to take this gross infringement of rights passively.
“Proposed Directive for Commercial Filming in the Wilderness; Special Uses Administration.” Federal Register 79 (4 September 2014): 52626-52628. Web. www.federalregister.gov.