24 Mar Changing Landscape: Artist Statements
Threaded Wildfire No. 3 © Adriene Hughes
This project began as a series of photographs in 2017 taken during a forest fire in Washington State with the use of an infrared camera. The colors are an anomaly: they are the product of infrared light bending through smoke, combined with a chemical reaction in the leaves that registered a forest in the throes of distress. Scientists agree that forests are made up of communities of trees and plants that communicate with each other, and that interconnect through a fungal network that forms bonds between the trees’ roots, a phenomenon known as the mycorrhizal network. This network of fungi can spread over many miles, connecting thousands of trees to one another. The resulting colors in these photos, I believe, is the recording of this communication as the trees warned and defended each other of the impending fire.
The intervention of embroidery into this work is my vision of what that fungal network—the biochemical and electrical signals—would look like if it were visible to the eye. Embroidery, seen as a technique historically reserved by the practices of women, is to lay claim to the photographic landscape under my terms as a craft-maker. I also believe the earth speaks to us in colors much like the chakras of Vedas philosophy: green represents the heart, blue the center of communication and red is the sacral root which ties us to the earth. The colors created by infrared technology, and the thread I stitched into these photographs, was to tie my physical body to the etherical, and the etherical into the landscape.
We Draw The Lines, But The Weather Decides
No landscape was ever made without a social or political agenda, and today the narrative of climate change has made that fact not only concrete, but didactic. It is irrefutable that the world is changing because of mankind, but what that change means and how it is manifesting before us physically is a much more complicated, chaotic and beautiful story than the one presented in an evening news cycle.
These images were made in Svalbard, an archipelago 1,200 miles north of Norway above the Arctic Circle, in the summer of 2016. Seeing the warmest year on record for the region, I was struck by how completely the environment would change depending on the weather. The photographs presented here are poems on the fluidity of place, celebrating the multitude of a landscape that refused to be any one thing.
The scale of images, as well as their vertical compositions expresses the weight and power the weather imposes upon the land. Other images will temper the narrative of climate change by showing the ways in which the archipelago is capable of adapting, for example showing the field of lavender flowers that emerge when the frost recedes. The title is a quote taken from the lead guide Sarah’s explanation of her decision process when planning the landings we would attempt; she and the other guides would plan to their best abilities but always knew that we were ultimately under the jurisdiction of the elements. It was a humbling experience to be so tangibly confronted by the weather. My goal is to broaden the dialogue surrounding climate change, showing the many ways in which a threatened environment responds to transformation.
Green roofs or eco roofs are living, ever-changing entities which are largely invisible and inaccessible to the general public. Unlike traditional gardens, these green roofs insulate and protect the structures they are on while replenishing the atmosphere with oxygen – all while beautifying our surrounding landscape and living space.
My series, Rooftop addresses what some contemporary urban pioneers are doing to mitigate the consequences of non-renewable energy consumption by countering heat island effect, improving storm water control, and reducing our carbon footprint. Busy skylines, symbols of our growth, are juxtaposed in contrast with buildings covered in plantings. These living and elevated landscapes represent the judicious reintroduction of nature, flourishing in a new urban setting. These pictures serve as reminders that we are in fact a subset of this Earth, focusing on our grace and ingenuity, and our need in integrating urbanization with a more responsible infrastructure and a healthier environment.