Unconsciously in Autumn 2009, I turned to the trees.
I don’t know why, perhaps for their strength and
certainty. While we tend to think of ourselves in
a wasting decline, the local trees are not. They have
come back after a long hiatus.
In old and not-so-old landscape photographs of
Martha’s Vineyard — from the 1930’s or even the
1960’s — you can see sheep meadows (occasionally
with sheep); there are precious few trees and none of
any real size. From the time when Captain Mayhew
taught the Bible to the Wampanoag people, through
about the Wright Brothers, the Vineyard had been
gradually clear-cut, shorn of its indigenous wood to
supply the raw material for living, for making houses,
boats and providing fuel to fire bricks.
These pictures are the mirror of my gratitude for the
return of the trees here, for hope in the resilient Earth
and hope for an improving understanding of our
inseparate place in nature.
They are metaphors of integration, reflections of the
landscape as a cognitive terrain – mind in the field &
field in the mind. These design patterns (textured
cylinders in immersive space) mimic the brain’s
feeble use of its background data-store, the
subconscious-primeval; and they mock our inability
to handle more than a few pieces of information in
the fore of consciousness at a single time. This is a
visual adaptation of Tor Nørretranders’ penetrating
exegesis of cognition in The User Illusion.
Pictures for Airports: The images started out as a way
to calibrate my vintage light meter and evolved in my
mind through a book of photogravures to 12-foot
square monochrome transparencies to be backlit and
positioned in the gangways and gates of an
international airport, to function like large
advertisements without words.
Medium is film: Fuji Neopan 100 and Efke 100.
Samuel West Hiser
West Tisbury, Massachusetts 2012