“I don’t even create any more, I connect… I connect to Earth’s reality. And to myself.”
— Bryant Austin
BRYANT AUSTIN’S ARTIST STATEMENT: I am mostly known for creating life-size photographs of whales, with an emphasis on the inquisitive expressions of their eyes. A process that encompassed twelve years of my life to create fourteen life-size whale portraits. Everything I create expresses an awareness that all photographs taken throughout history, are the cosmos taking a self-portrait. It is this feeling of connectedness that I seek to convey through every photograph.
My new work reveals the sun’s surface in vivid detail, as viewed through Earth’s varied atmospheric states. Dramatic landscape elements anchor the experience to challenge our perceptions of reality and our place within an infinite void. The process is complex and often requires the use of three telescopes equipped with infrared cameras and a monochrome video camera with scientific filters. This equipment is often backpacked in the Sierras to capture Sun/Earth interactions that occur only a few moments each year.
Following my father’s death in 2015 and a near death experience of my own a few months later, I felt compelled to explore the oneness I felt with whales through other subjects. My creative journey revealed an avenue for deeper connection to the cosmos, personal transcendence, and peace of mind.
This creative practice has led me to feel that the disconnection we experience - from one another, from nature, and the universe - is an illusion. Closer to home, this awareness has challenged me to explore ways to deconstruct the divisions we create between subjects found in nature and contemporary photography.
RUBIN NOTE: I was thinking of Peter Beard, not Nick Brandt, when I was recalling African images of Africa and dead animals. The following is about Nick Brandt:
In December of 2000, Nick Brandt was in East Africa directing a music video for Michael Jackson. When the shooting for the video was complete, Brandt took some time off and visited some of the wildlife preserves. He took along a medium format camera and began to photograph the animals he saw from the car. Now, six years later, Brandt is out of the music video business. He devotes himself full time to photographing the animals of Africa.
Brandt’s approach to his work is unique…perhaps because he was never trained as a still photographer. Although he take photographs of wildlife, he is not really a wildlife photographer. He’s not interested in documenting the actual lives of real animals in the wild. Instead he creates romanticized images of animals in an equally romanticized setting. https://www.utata.org/sundaysalon/nick-brandt/
ON THE WALL OF BRYANT AUSTIN
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