Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Few New Works from Winter of 2016.

So, I keep thinking I'm figuring out how to better balance teaching, being a father, and making artwork. But it's hard. Still, this spring my brain has started to make room for new work more than it did in the turbulent fall semester.  

I've even managed to go beyond the thinking stage and actually make a few new pieces I'm excited about, most all for the series I call 44% Blue. This new work has collided a bit with my interest in uncanny objects, which I've been noticing and photographing quite a bit over the past few years. Despite this focus on objects, the new pieces are still landscapes... One of the few consistent threads that runs through this sprawling series, as I strive to be a bit of a visual chameleon by adopting a wide range of visual language and technologies while mining art history and contemporary culture as I probe into how we think about landscape in this lovely globalized world of ours. Wow, that was a hell of a sentence.

The first picture, United Nations Secretariat, 2016, is a pretty direct appropriation of Charles Sheeler's 1951 photograph of the UN building in NYC (now in MoMA's collection). The one difference being that my photo features the smear of a moiré along the long windowed side of the building, achieved by resampling parts of the image. So my photo is a new version of the building, physically impossible/compromised... This distortion, I hope, plays on the aspirations and expectations of the United Nations and the skyscrapers in general, and the challenges we face in achieve those goals. A massive building of steel and concrete becomes a transparent screen:

A Tree for Mondrian, Rorschach, Techentin, and Zimmerman is also rife with references.  It's an image of a tree's silhouette that has been broken up by a checkerboard patterned created by cutting up a tree and then flipping it horizontally to create a mirrored image.  Mondrian's trees as well as the ink blots of Rorschach's test come to mind.  As in the Rorschach test, where people are asked to look for order amidst random matter, to say what they see...  Here, I'm trying to shovel as many different forms of order onto the form of a tree as possible.  The tree's branching pattern, the grid, the bilateral symmetry that is created by the intersection of these different bits of order... The last two names in the lengthy title of the piece are two students.  I actually thought of the piece while demonstrating a Photoshop technique to them: 

I made Discovering Icebergs with my Daughter during a walk in February through my neighborhood, with stroller, gurgling/giggling six month old, and 35mm camera.  Those of you in the Mid-Atlantic know that we had a record breaking blizzard in January.  On this late February day, the snow had finally melted enough that my daughter and I could walk through the neighborhood with relative ease.  All that was left of the record breaking blizzard were a few dirty and melting piles of snow where plows had piled it along corners of the roads.  And as we walked by one of these piles (the top center image in the grid) a UPS truck smashed into it, sending half the pile into the air and covering us with a spray of snow.  Covered in that dirty snow, smelling the UPS's exhaust, I stared at that little destroyed iceberg and reflected on where this world I've brought my darling daughter into is heading...  And the dirty snow looked amazingly beautiful and complicated.  We walked around the neighborhood, admiring the others.  These images are more direct and matter of fact than the others, perhaps.  Taking a page from the New Topographics photographers.  Banal objects that are about to vanish, while hinting toward larger abstract issues of melting glaciers and icebergs:

So, I do have one landscape that is as 'anti-object' as could possible be...  Endless Rhine is taken from Gursky's The Rhine II.  His trying to expand the photograph into a landscape with those massive prints.  His intentionally emptying it with Photoshop.  But in my work, I've stitched the image into itself over and over again, making it extended forever.  I imagine this as one of those wall paper border prints, a decorative trim along the top edge of a wall:

That's all for now.  I'm looking forward to summer break already, and starting to realize some of the images on the long to do list of ideas that are bouncing around in my head.  Happy spring. -T.

Monday, January 25, 2016

New Gardens from Maine to Florida

I've had a bit of time over the past few months to continue working on my long term project photographing urban agriculture and community gardens.  This post includes images from the East Coast of the USA, from Maine to Florida and many places in between.

My long term goal is to photograph these gardening contexts across the planet (I've already hit up a good chunk of the EU, USA, Cuba, and Mongolia...  And am going to work on Japan this coming summer).  I've been working on the project for over 10 years now, and at this point it is on something of a 'slow-burn'...  because over the past few years I've been shifting my focus to more studio based work and photographic constructions, and away from documentary photography.

But these gardens are still really important to me, and every time I head out to make a photograph of one I most definitely learn more about how to construct a photograph.  These recent efforts certainly reflect this...  Though I'll be the first to admit that these banal scenes are far from 'sexy.'  These images could use a bit more editing, but I'm going to go out and enjoy my snow day instead of doing that for now...

A classic composition to this garden in North Carolina...  with the gnarly tree in the background completing the triangle in the center of the composition:

Portland, Maine...  A more scatted passage through the space, zig zagging along the path passed the few lonely greens, to the folks petting their dog, and including a classic Maine sail boat scene in the far background of the image:

Similarly scatted image from a garden along the water in Jacksonville, FL:

Two very different garden plots in Charleston, SC:

Multiple grids in Maryland:

Compost and contrived swamp in Jacksonville, FL:

The community garden at St. Mary's College of Maryland:

Gourd and flamingo as positive and negative, or yin and yang, in Washington DC:

Lilies after a rainstorm in Portland, ME:

Perfect coil and compost bags in Alexandria, VA:

Pathetic pond and playground ruins, somewhere in Georgia:

The turtle, in Jacksonville, FL:

Truly Boca in Boca Raton...  This garden is actually sponsored by Whole Foods:

Richmond, VA:

I photographed this garden in Bar Harbor, ME 10 years ago, and went back to it this past summer:

Fake flowers and barren garden in Maryland:

Back in Boca:

Prayer Garden in Jacksonville, FL:

 North Carolina, for profit garden that was being very intensely kept up:


Monday, January 11, 2016

A Delayed Post Considering Three Months of Chaos

Well, it's two weeks into January and three months since I've posted anything onto this blog.  Someday perhaps I'll figure out how to organize the chaos of life as a daddy, but I want to post a bit before the semester starts and I really have no hope of putting my own thoughts together.

My book of Ornithological Photographs has been generating a flattering amount of press...  Like a feature in The Sunday Times Magazine (though I can't find an online version of that one), several mentions in Nature (Books in Brief: Ornithological Photographs, 365 Days: The Best Science Images of 2015, The Ornithological Photographer), Slate's Behold Blog (Can a Moment of Discomfort Help Save these Birds), The Telegraph (How to Catch a Bird: Ornithological Photographs by Todd R. Forsgren) Le Temps (Plein Cadre: Dans les filets de Todd Forsgren), Wired (These Birds aren’t in Trouble–it’s Just Science in Action), aPhotoEditor (This Week in Photography Books: Todd R. Forsgren), Fotografia Magazine (See Todd Forsgren’s Incredible Photographs of Tangled Birds), Scientific American (The Complex Net of Human Interference) Juxtapoz (Ornithological Photographs’ by Todd R. Forsgren), L’Œil de la Photographie (Todd Forsgren: Photographies Ornithologiques), WVIZ Radio (The Sound of Applause), Photograph of the Day at Don’t Take Pictures, Dazed Digital (Have you heard of these photographs yet?), and Gup Magazine (Ornithological Photographs). Phew. That was a lot.

Aside from that, I've been quite busily adding to my series Post-industrial Edens, with new photos of Community Gardens from up and down the East Coast. So soon, I'll be scanning those and doing a post dedicated to that.

And hoping to get back into the studio to make some new works for 44% Blue soon! In the meantime, I have a piece from that series opening up at a show at the Cleveland Museum of Art in February. More on that soon.

As for me less concise photographic works, now being arranged into the series I call An Imperfect Representation, being a father has been keeping me from that a bit, and instead I've been taking lots of pictures of my daughter. But I do have a few shots to share with you from the last few months...

Spiderweb with dew:

Grid in a wine glass:

Found Sculpture, 2015, Seaweed and fishing line:

Moonrise Xmas: 

Emily and Janet looking chic:


Sophisticated touch:

Iced green tea with condensation and cracks:

Firecracker flowers:

Moments apart at sunrise, January 1st, 2016:

Great Blue Heron in the garden pond...

Great Blue Heron at Sunset:

Tricolored Heron yawning: 

Sunset gradient in northeastern Florida...

Trash can fire at church in Jacksonville:

Toxic river at a bar on Shell Island:


Portuguese Man o' War

Invasive Species:

Mom and Dad's wedding photo...

New York from a distance:

Sail boats, St. Mary's River:

Artificial Sunset:

Pink accident:

Multicolored sidewalk spots:

Christmas photo, or Mika with Square hair and baby:

My Little Goober:

Family photo, Signing off...