• Rita Leduc

Integrated Photographs + Reveal

As a means to resensitize place in a society deprived of environmental empathy, my work conflates physical, perceptual, and psychological boundaries. For the non-human, animate world, the environment is porous and boundary-free. These organisms view their world as an extension of themselves; they are interconnected; the parts are the whole. Empathy is employed and reciprocity results. Inspired by these creatures, my search is for a boundaryless presence where the participants – be they gestures on paper or objects in a space – engage and understand rather than simply coexist. This holistic understanding of place is the first step to recognizing our interdependence.

IP I: 09.07.16 Tofte Lake Center (Birch), digital photograph, dimensions variable, 2016

In order to strike up initial conversation with the site, I first create Integrated Photographs. This process begins by securing a frame stretched with clear acetate somewhere on location. I then improvise a composition on and around the acetate by responding instinctively to the site through painting, drawing, and material. Once complete, I take a photograph, aligning the marks on the film with the fore- and background. The resulting hybrid photographs conflate the space, visualizing an equalized moment between added marks, environment, and vantage point. Through the push-and-pull dialogue that this process and the resulting images reveal, I cultivate an understanding of each location where pre-perceived sensations exist without assigned definitions.

IP II: 09.08.16 Tofte Lake Center (Leaves), digital photograph, dimensions variable, 2016

If the goal of the Integrated Photographs is to depict a conflation between my own marks and those of the environment, the Reveals uncover the heartbreaking humanity of this attempt. Zoomed-out documentary photographs of the installations created for the Integrated Photographs, the Reveals show the instability, temporality, and intrusive nature of the installations. Further, by shifting the scale of that which is viewed from inside the frame, they divulge the wider environmental context, exposing how narrow and specific my own perspective is.

Reveal I: Reveal of 09.30.14 Wells (Amphitheater), digital photograph, 12x16", 2014

The first two images are Integrated Photographs from a series of work based on a 2016 residency in Tofte Lake, a glacial lake in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. Working through a variety of mediums, I determined the site to have an all-encompassing effect. The pairing of glacial lake + clear, open sky incited a full-bodied experience of equalization; matter flowing freely through all barriers between body, air, and landscape. The site emphasized that we participate not in a hierarchy but a collaboration.

Reveal II: Reveal of 10.28.14 Wells (Flags), digital photograph, 16x12", 2014

The second two images are Reveals from a series based on my time in 2014-2015 as Scholar-in-Residence at Wells College in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Again working through multiple mediums, Wells revealed an intimately silent, introspective affect. With its tales of haunted dormitories, crumbling statues, deep, pine forests, and ivy-coated brick, the campus had a tendency to refer backward. Yet, set in the shadows high on a hill, it looked down upon Lake Cayuga, which glistened regardless of the forecast. At Wells, the emphasis was on distance – historical, topographical, or otherwise – and how that distance affected the viewer’s present perception.