Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ryan Stander: Topos/Chora

Last summer, the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project in Cyprus had a novel idea, an artist in residence program. Photographer Ryan Stander spent the season with the archaeologists, (as we would now say) "embedded" in the team. The fruits of this project are now on view at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks, N.D. During preparation for the exhibit, I was invited to contribute an essay reflecting on Stander's work. I picked one photo, a kind of self portrait, and wrote about it. The exhibit is now on-line and you can read my reflections here. I am honored to have been invited on this project, a rare example of interdisciplinary collaboration between art, archaeology and the theory of both.

Thinking about the photographic landscape comes at an opportune time for me, as I get ready to start a mapping project this summer in collaboration with Todd Brenningmeyer at Maryville University. Using a combination of balloons, kites and survey, we hope to document a series of urban forms across Boeotia, Phocis, Eleia and Karpathos in Greece. Our idea is to produce aerial digital images with limited topographic survey (G.P.S.) Using the topographic coordinates as anchors, we will geo-rectify the aerial photos and digitize the wall elements visible within them. As a result, we use the photographs to investigate general landscape issues, but also as the base for new urban maps. Many of the sites we will be surveying are situated in difficult and rocky mountain tops. Traditional survey would be extremely strenuous. This will be an experimental season. If our process works, we might just take the show on the road and create a permanently nomadic field project.

I am receiving immense inspiration from my colleague Scott Wright who teaches painting and photography (and a fantastic art history course on Art and Jazz). If you look at Scott's work, you'll note the interface between aerial photography and landscape painting. Scott is also artist-in-residence at the Wohlsen Center, a new organization at F&M devoted to ecology and sustainability. Ryan Stander (see his blog, Axis of Access) has introduced me to the New Topographics school of photography. Just this last week, Scott and I started an informal reading group to deal precisely with issues of ecology and landscape art.


sara said...

wow, look at that, very creative and inspiring, I wish I could design something like that

Unknown said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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rstander said...

kostis...thanks for the post and links...and most of all the essay. i greatly appreciate it. i saw a lot of people taking time to read it at the opening. it is a great addition to the project.

funny you should mention the new topographics...ive been plugging away at survey on the NT again attempting pull together a healthy photo lineage for them. i will be giving this paper at the UND history conf.

i wish i could be in your reading group...what are you reading? take a look at Ecotopia, a nice little book from ICP/Steidl.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States