2018 #52

Geomancy

by Michael Lundgren

"As humans...we told our story based on the living body of the Earth, through almanacs and songlines and paintings on the wall. Many of us now live under a very different set of guides. My work is a contemplation of this shift away from an Earth-centred mythology."

GEOMANCY

Geomancy is a form of divination, a connection with the spiritual realm through the interpretation of visual marks on the Earth. It is also a practice by which particular sites and vistas are pronounced sacred.

As humans we long looked to the sun, the stars and moon as maps; we regarded the planet as our home and ourselves as a parcel of it. We told our story based on the living body of the Earth, through almanacs and songlines and paintings on the wall. Many of us now live under a very different set of guides. My work is a contemplation of this shift away from an Earth-centred mythology.

PROGRESSION

I started photographing the primitive landscape with a view camera in the late 90s. My intention was to create a visual poem where the landscape was offered as a transcendent subject. Over time it became more of an apocalyptic sequence, an unfolding of a pre-human earth. This work was published as Transfigurations in 2008. The more I photographed these landscapes, the more I felt the advance of human occupation and the need to somehow transform this presence. Working in color I stripped away context, creating iconic images of found objects. This work was published as Matter in 2016.

Geomancy is an evolution of these two bodies of work and offers itself as a bridge between them. The sequence oscillates from the larger landscape to the singular animate subject, bringing facets of my past work to the surface. We find ourselves in a world we think we can navigate yet are soon disarmed by the utter surrealism of these spaces and the figures that occupy them.

THE BLUE HOUR

Carlos Castaneda’s character Don Juan refers to the twilight as ‘the crack between the worlds’. I’ve often felt that if there were an alternate universe, access to it would happen at dawn or dusk, in the blue hour. These are also the points in the day when I’m able to craft and control the light and structure of the images. The world then becomes more of a stage. The real challenge for me has been how to summon the magical realism I’m after in the light of the day.

Read more (1 min read)

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Michael Lundgren

Arizona, US

Michael Lundgren, by Andrew Phelps

Michael Lundgren

Arizona, US

Having spent his formative years roaming the woods of upstate New York, Michael Lundgren (b.1974, USA) now lives and works in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. Collaborating with fellow artists as well as experts in other fields – from scientists to writers – Lundgren creates historically and socially engaged bodies of work which often revolve around artefacts within the landscape. Building on previous bodies of work such as Transfigurations and Matter, Lundgren’s Geomancy project seeks out meaning in both the landscape and the animate objects that populate it. The artist’s images have been included in a range of international publications, whilst his works have been collected by institutions such as London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Art.

Image courtesy of Andrew Phelps.

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