- Deserts & Dunes
- Ghost Towns
- Urban Silence
- Street Art
Deserts and dunes are places of space, of solitude, and of contemplation. They engender a sense of peace and calm. They also have a quiet energy which is seen in the contours of the dunes and the textures and colors of the sand which creates them. One finds extremes in the desert -- in temperature -- in light -- in contrast -- in texture -- in the size of the sand dunes created from the surrounding mountains. The color of the dunes is influenced by the type of sand they are composed of, from the stark white of the White Sands dunes in NM, to the golden hue of the Imperial Sand dunes in CA to the myriad of colors in the dunes of Death Valley, CA. Their shapes, formed by the winds grinding stone into sand, create their own stories in ever-changing portraits.
Desert and dune photographs by Jane Sydney are part of the decor of many places where their calm images evoke a peacefulness and contemplation. These include hospice units, meditation rooms and chapels, palliative care facilities in hospitals and private facilities. Many individuals have also found them appropriate and soothing for their home environment.
Canyons share the solitude and calm of the deserts and dunes, as well as their colorful energy as portrayed in Jane Sydney’s photographs. The viewer can enter the canyon through the intensity of the colors and textures of the canyon walls. But their space is challenged since the canyons often are a vertical vista rather than the horizontal one of the desert. Canyons as well as deserts have been sacred places for thousands of years for the native people. They retain that awe and wonder through these photographs.
Canyons, too, change with wind and water -- with light and shadow. The colors found in the canyons are often otherwordly -- pinks, purples, ocres, yellows and all shades and tones in between. The play of light on the canyon walls creates pictures from their surface texture. It is not uncommon to find the best view of a canyon from beneath the surface as the photographs of Antelope Canyon attest. Other canyons which are on a much broader scale such as Zion and Bryce have their own unique composition and are visually awe-inspiring.
A ghost town, by definition, is a deserted town or one in which there are very few inhabitants and businesses left. Ghost towns can be found throughout the country and there is a beauty in their desolation. The Salton Sea in CA is an area filled with ghost towns, especially the North Shore Boat Club and Marina and Motel. The remnants of the 1950’s architecture are a stark reminder of how transient our culture can be. Built on the Salton Sea at a time when this area was a playground for Los Angeles, now, the Sea is more salinated than any ocean and with no fresh water supply the area has become ghostly. In that same area one can see Salvation Mountain which is the work of one man who has spent the past 28 years building his quirky mountain from found objects in the surrounding desert. Route 66 in Arizona and California passes through numerous ghost towns which were overlooked and shunned when interstate highways were built.
Ghost towns are a presence in absence. Through the buildings left behind, one can get a sense of the town and its people such as in Bodie, CA where everything in every building remains in place -- as if the people were vaporized. I feel that by photographing these places, i can somehow keep them alive and remind us all that the future is not predictable.
Urban silence is the tag i have put on my photographs of cities and towns in a state of despair and disrepair -- decay, disintegration and dilapidation abound. Yet, while those words can aptly be applied, i prefer silence. It is more gentle and i take my photographs to chart the history -- past lives and present ones -- to show that there can be beauty in the silence of these places.
From Trenton, NJ to Berlin, NH and old owns in Maine to the backwater towns of West VA and NM and the deserts of CA, their remains remind us of what was. Trenton in its heyday was a manufacturing center with a company which built the Brooklyn Bridge along with Lenox china and TRW. Berlin, NH was the paper mill capital and now those mills have been dismantled along with the town. West Virginia towns and villages have been caught up for years in the decline of the coal industry and in New Mexico and the Mohave desert towns, small manufacturing and businesses have disappeared leaving their remnants. As with my ghost towns, there is a presence in absence here as well. I take these photographs to bring that presence to the viewer.
Graffiti is fun, it is art, it is funky and it is ubiquitous. It is found in large cities and small -- basically on any surface which can be drawn on. Some of it is in the form of posters glued to buildings, and some with spray cans. No matter what medium is used, it is in your face and colorful, often with a message. These images are meant to show the talent that is out there, often in the dark of night, creating art. And we all need art in our daily life. So these are my homage to those unnamed artists from New York City, Amsterdam, and the desert. Enjoy!
Sometimes, looking through a macro lens at some paint chips, there is an image which is so startling that it looks like a painting of something known. And sometimes it is the curve of desert sands worked over in the computer to reveal colors which one never thought were there. Other times it is just a matter of moving ones camera to get an image of lines and color to create a new reality. The movement of water over rocks is always abstract and shows light and shape in a new dimension. Then there are the times when one has a thought of something abstract using color and shape and then creates it from nothing.
Like street art, abstracts for me are fun, colorful and whimsical. Take a paint chip and see it as a starry night or a desert sunrise. Take some neon signs and make them into a vertical painting. Take a door handle on an old truck and allow the worn out paint to surround it in a tableau of color.
Reality can be abstract if you look closely enough.
Traveling gives one perspective -- it brings home the differences in cultures from ones own. It gives one a chance to see the world, be it in the USA or abroad. Wanderings is a “dip” into my travels and includes foreign as well as USA images. Photographs of Tunisia, Mono Lake, CA as well as Zion, Bryce and more are included here. All Over the Place is exactly that. Photographs of favorite visits showing quintessential shots of various and sundry places I have visited.
The images are available in 5” x 7”, 8” x 12” and 12” x 18” sizes and are archival pigment prints. A number of the photographs are limited editions. Pieces arrive with white acid free matting ready to frame.