Alembic

:something that refines or transmutes as if by distillation

Nature is a word filled with historic and individual association, just as most words. My understandings of Nature, capitalized for emphasis, have been informed by many different systems of thought – namely, the Transcendental movement of the mid-1800’s, primarily through the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Epistemologists such as Heinz von Foerster and Gregory Bateson, and my own personal experiences as an artist and lover of Nature. As Emerson beckons in the introduction to his seminal essay Nature, “why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?”. These photographs are my attempt to try to define my understandings of Nature and the problems that arise with attempting to make works of art that concern it.

The title of this body of work, alembic, is an attempt to draw a metaphor between the function of an alembic and art, specifically photography. Photography is a special medium which is almost always tied to the thing itself, with the materiality of the world. Nature and its permutations of light, form, and presence are in and of itself ambivalent or ignorant to the observer. It is the observer, the artist, who finds their place and organizes the materiality of the world – creating or happening upon the incidence of something “beautiful”. It is all too often we separate ourselves from this transaction, beauty is not a property, but a process of transmutation. Just as the alembic refines, our eye recontextualizes Nature - and the alembic itself, as well as the artist, has been in some way imbued into that final substance.