Drawing on an alliance with the Catskills environment, these works propose a renewal of vision, an experiential encounter between the self and nature out in the world, rather than an encounter mediated by technological devices. this: seasons reflects upon our distance from our imperiled environment in the anthropocene.
Working on-site, a camera and the unique focal properties of its lenses map the immediacy of sensory awareness and impermanence. Focal manipulations—from sharp depiction to defocused abstracted elements—indicate shifting and elusive perceptual awareness experienced amidst light, air, water, rocks and trees. The way the eye seamlessly darts from place to place, selective attention, memory, and the movement of the body through space all coalesce in a multivalent visualization of a site via the lens.
The photographs of this: seasons were made in the Kaaterskill Clove, the inspiration for the Hudson River School artists. Luminous color and light and a persistent sense of place animate both Wides’ photographs and the Hudson River School paintings. Those paintings were grounded in a vision of a grand, majestic nature that reflected 19th century ideas about imperialist expansion. Today, the dominance and acceleration of technology have deeply affected our relationship to time and space and have corroded our ability to be truly present. Created in a time when nature is degraded and in urgent need of preservation, this: seasons pushes us not to merely exist in our environment, but to directly engage with phenomena.
These photographs are inspired by the historic and cultural influences that vibrate in a setting and by how we gather up these bits of data to form an idea of a landscape. Merleau-Ponty wrote of Cezanne that he depicted “an object in the act of disappearing, organizing itself before our eyes.” His words articulate Wides’ desire to capture the immersive act of beholding. Through manipulations of light and space in the photographs, Wides seeks to slow down the moment of observing so we can see deeply into the meaning of a landscape and contemplate where we are.