I, Terra, Thou

I, Terra, Thou, 1993

A diptych, a triptych and three single camera-less toned gelatin silver prints on fibre paper made on location. Unique objects. Various sizes. Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1 piece). Enquire here.

Begun in early 1993, these outdoor shadowgrams are possibly the first life-scale records of living ecosystems executed on-location without a camera in the history of photography. They were created by first constructing an upright scaffold to hold the pre-imagined composition in daylight then, after dark, pegging the photographic paper to the support and exposing the plant-shadowed paper to a precisely pre-calibrated pulse of flash light. One piece, the triptych Allocasuarina verticillata made at Werribee Gorge was exposed partially by the light of a rising full moon. The exposed paper was then backpacked out in a light-proof tube for processing in the studio. In effect, in these works, the landscape became the camera.

The project emerged out of a desire to bypass the nature-objectifying conventions of conventional landscape photography by reducing the emotional and kinetic distance between the photographic surface, the artist and ecological subject. Reflecting the projects’ relational rationale, the series title inserts earth – ‘Terra’ – into philosopher Martin Buber’s empathic ‘I-Thou’ affectual dynamic.