In Dan Holdsworth’s latest series Transmission: New Remote Earth Views, he appropriates topographical data to document the ideologically and politically loaded spaces of the American West in an entirely new way. In his images of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mount Shasta, Mount St. Helens, Salt Lake City and Park City, we see stark, uninterrupted terrains where meaning is made through what it is absent, as much as what is seen. What at first appears to be a pure white snow-capped mountain is in fact a digitally rendered laser scan of the earth appropriated from United States Geological Survey data, a ‘terrain model’ used to measure climate and land change – to measure man’s effect on the earth. Belying his empirical methodology is the fact that each of these terrains has a rich and conflicting cultural legacy. Beginning with the idealised aesthetic of the Romantic sublime via the deadpan industrial frames of the New Topographics photographers a century later, each has been subject to the gaze of artistic, political, and sociological categories claiming this territory as their own. Extending ideas of the frontier and seeing anew, Transmission captures the world as if from space, functioning not only as a map of the land but as a mapping of the discourses that these lands have come to represent. Working outside of the wilderness myths that render the images from the photographic avant-garde the ‘after’ to nineteenth-century visions of Carlton Watkins’ ‘before’, Holdsworth opens up a working territory that is open to the ambiguous and ethereal, oscillating between realms of art and science, the familiar and the alien, the industrial and the natural. Without the signifiers of the natural there is no idealised wilderness or picturesque aesthetic, no invoking of the Romantic version of the sublime; and yet at the same time what is antithetical to these visual tropes - the man-made, the artificial, the vernacular of the New Topographics photographers – is also absent. With neither the schema of the romantic nor the everyday to guide us, Holdsworth absorbs us into a vision of the unknown; a space that is unequivocally, transcendentally, Other. Holdsworth was born in 1974 in Welwyn Garden City, England. He studied photography at the London College of Printing, and has exhibited internationally including solo shows at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, and Barbican Art Gallery, London; and group shows at Tate Britain, London, and Centre Pompidou, Paris. His work is held in collections including the Tate Collection, Saatchi Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A new book of Holdsworth’s work titled Blackout will be published by Steidl BG and in March.
Dan Holdsworth would like to thank and acknowledge the following people, organizations, references and resources: Dr. Stuart Dunning: Dr. of Geomorphology at Northumbria University, England. The US Geological Survey:Gesch, D.B., 2007, The National Elevation Dataset, in Maune, D., ed., Digital Elevation Model Technologies and Applications: The DEM Users Manual, 2nd Edition: Bethesda, Maryland, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, p. 99-118. Gesch, D., Oimoen, M., Greenlee, S., Nelson, C., Steuck, M., and Tyler, D., 2002, The National Elevation Dataset: Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 68, no. 1, p. 5-11.Yosmemite National Park, CA: Rockfall Studies: LiDAR data acquisition and processing completed by the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM - http://www.ncalm.org). NCALM funding provided by NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, Instrumentation and Facilities Program. EAR-1043051.
Photo credit: Mike Bruce
Transmission: New Remote Earth Views, Brancolini Grimaldi,
London, United Kingdom
23.03 - 19.05.2012