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These photographs were made during a walking trip in Iceland with other canadian and icelandic artists, during a project entitled Without A Trace. I am interested in the difference between 'the landscape' as an ideal or essential vision and the nature that it represents in this age of 'experience-by-proxy'. In our urban environments, we have learned to ignore distinctions between the authentic and the fabricated.
When I walk with other artists in such a place as Iceland, our eyes are wide with disbelief and wonder. I decided to work on the idea of the pixel as space within a landscape and I also gave myself complete liberty to reinterpret the walks we took: people and objects were placed in different locations than where they were photographed. I still consider that this work documents the expeditions, because I only used photographs of people who were there with me, in the places where we went. This continues my interests in juxtaposing fact and fiction within a documentary practice.
The negatives were made with a medium-format camera, scanned to high-resolution and then printed by the light-jet process onto high-gloss Duraflex paper. (Direct digital light jet onto photographic emulsion).
Conversation with Karl Blossfeldt
Conversation with Karl Blossfeldt is a website which was produced during a project entitled FieldWork, in July 2001. FieldWork resulted from a residency with Æ Lab and Boreal Art/Nature, the first and only one I participated in, during the years that these residencies were hosted at my shared country house.
In a nutshell, my own site represents a fictitional conversation between Karl Blossfeldt and Annelisa Schran, a young new media student and naturalist. She collects plant samples, and scans them in different ways to then produce web-page rollovers which emphasize plant structures, much in the same spirit as Karl Blossfeldt's own photographic work.
In a Boreal Art/Nature publication about the project, Justin Wonnacott provides insight into FieldWorks. This publication is available through Boreal Art/nature.
" Lorraine Gilbert's artwork 'Conversations' is an homage structured around the images and sensibilities established by Karl Blossfeldt. He made a large archive of rigorously simple photographs of plant forms for use in his drawing and modelling classes.Although Blossfeldt's photographs were originally made to be classroom instructional aids, his work became much better known in the late 1920s when it was associated with the influential Neue Sachlichkeit movement in German photography. The 1928 publication Urformen der Kunst defines his modern, economic treatment of natural forms."
exerpt from: "Radiolarian life, the parts of a flower and the philosopher's stone", Justin Wonnacott, 2001
Fish in the Water are Thirsty
After years of planting trees in Québec and in B.C., and working on the photo project Shaping the New Forest, I decided that I needed a foot in the countryside, to live closer to the land, in a way more sane than planting trees in clear-cuts. Then, from 1995 to 2002, in a partnership between myself and Luc Beauparlant, the place we bought became the base of operations for the artist-run center Boreal Art/Nature where we hosted residencies with artists from all over the world.
I began to make photographs around the house, in 1992.
Special thanks to Luc and Christine for their care and efforts to practice the art of everyday life on this land.
" In the series, The Fish in the Water are Thirsty, what is apparent is Gilbert's own intimate investment in the site she attends. It is a subtle, lived engagement distinct from the more overt politic of the New Forest series. Her photographs suggest a way of relating to locale predicated on a close attentiveness: what does it mean to inhabit and observe a place in it's seasonal unfoldings?
Though seemingly spontaneous records of natural scenes, the large format negatives and photographs are the result of thoughtful composition and rigorous selection: very few are printed, from hundreds of negatives. Further, "nature" here is not wild, but rural and indeed completely overlain with the marks of enculturation, from the Himalayan gargoyle-style snowman, to the photo captured echo of a 60s land-art inspired spiral on a melting lake."
Renee Baert, Curator of Contemporary Art, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2002
Shaping the New Forest 1987-1994
In 1982, I began to plant trees in order to subsidize my artistic work. I planted for seven years at which point I found a solution to my desire to make pictures about the experience. In another seven years, I had hundreds of images which both documented and interpreted the state of the landscape and the state of the silviculture industry in British Columbia.
This major project is dedicated to Rami Rothkop, a forest conservationist and the best tree-planting contractor BC has ever known.
In 2004, when Boreal Art/nature, (Quebec land-based artist-run centre) was bequeathed with the tenure of a new 300 acre piece of land, covered in Boreal forest, I was asked if I could make photographs of the trees on the land for a fund-raising initiative:
Adopt a Tree- Cultivate Art.
For me, this was a great challenge; after photographing clearcuts in the early 1990's, I didn't know how to approach a single tree among many trees in a forest. I realized that clearcuts were landscapes with a visible horizon, and that individual trees in a forest were like portraits of people in a crowd, and a whole new approach to the subject of the forest had to be undertaken.
Since then, I have photographed notable trees everywhere I go, as an ongoing project, in the country, in the city, and even in Central Park in NYC.
Montreal and Vancouver Night Works
These images were taken in Montreal and Vancouver between 1979 and 1982 from Chinatown and the East End around Commercial Drive. They are images of private front yards, with flowering trees, bushes and flowers. They might appear as film sets ready for actions by subjects, who could be moving between private and public spaces. The glowing interiour lights and surreal colours caused by stretching the films colour latitude, results in a feeling of exclusion (being an outsider) as well as one of wonder. I was new to Vancouver at the time, as a forestry student at UBC. This series was shown at the Coburg gallery and reviewed by Bob Sherin in Vanguard in 1982. They are original prints from 35mm negatives and vary in size between 16X20 inches and 11X14 inches. Some of the negatives burned in the Banff fire at Christmas in 1979. The online images you see here were produced from the original prints. The photographs are untitled, so the names here are for identification only.
Vancouver Days and Nights
These images were taken in Vancouver between 1979 and 1982 from Chinatown and the East End around Commercial Drive. They are images of private front yards, with flowering trees, bushes and flowers. They might appear as film sets ready for actions by subjects, who could be moving between private and public spaces. The glowing interiour lights and surreal colours caused by stretching the films colour latitude, results in a feeling of exclusion (being an outsider) as well as one of wonder. I was new to Vancouver at the time, as a forestry student at UBC. This series was shown at the Coburg gallery and reviewed by Bob Sherin in Vanguard in 1982. They are original prints from 35mm negatives and vary in size between 16X20 inches and 11X14 inches. Some of the negatives burned in the Banff fire at Christmas in 1979. The online images you see here were produced from the original prints. The photographs are untitled, so the names here are for identification only.