I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel George at SPE Philadelphia. We talked for a bit and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his work for this blog. His work is quality all around so make sure you stop by his site to see more of it.
His Artist Statement for Introducing Nature:
Introducing Nature is about the quirky ways nature is incorporated into urban environments. Trees grow out of squares cut in the sidewalks, hedges form geometric shapes, and potted plants stand isolated against cold, cement backdrops. There is a strong contrast between the geometric and the organic, the man-made and the natural. But we have grown accustomed to this polarity. We enjoy our parks that fit perfectly within the city grid and the orderly rows of trees that line our streets. These photographs do not delineate a battle between opposing forces – man vs. nature – rather they present amusing examples of how we maintain a close relationship with the environment. There is an apparent visual awkwardness to nature in unnatural places, yet that is how we preserve it in our urbanized surroundings.
[Me] To me I find an interesting conversation between "our responsibility" in terms of preserving nature and reintroducing nature into developed areas, do you feel that contemporary architecture is accommodating a new role in incorporating nature?
[Daniel] These days I do think that contemporary architecture is trying in more ways to incorporate nature in response to conversations on sustainability and green living. It seems that more people are recognizing the need to maintain a balance with nature, and as a result, are designing ways to include it in even the most developed urban areas. A good example of this is the High Line in New York City, where they basically converted an abandoned railway into an elevated, public park. It is amazing.
[Me] In the world of man and nature do you feel your images are confronting "visual awkwardness" or emphasizing it? To what ends to you hope to achieve though your interpretation?
[Daniel] I would say that my images emphasize visual awkwardness. I generally look for scenes where nature appears out of place, and then I try to push that odd relationship even further. I want to create a lighthearted sort of tension within the photographs—between the subject and the environment. I pay a lot of attention to the placement of light poles, power lines, windows, and other supporting elements in order to do this. I am interested in communicating my sense of humor, which I admit can be a bit dry, by emphasizing some silly detail that might normally be overlooked.
[Me] Your choice of using black and white seems at odds with the inherent qualities of "greenery" in our world, can elaborate on your motivation behind using black and white?
[Daniel] My main motivation in using black and white was to maintain a clear, precise emphasis on form. One artist whose work I looked to early on was Charles Sheeler and his photographs of the Ford Motor plant, which are visually all about the shapes of industry. It seemed to me that the best way to show contrast between organic and geometric shapes in my work was to eliminate color and focus on form. I found that color worked in my images sometimes, but that it was too distracting for the majority.
[Me] How are you planning on presenting the work? Large installations? Intimate prints? Or something else entirely?
[Daniel] For presentation, I prefer a more intimate print size—16x20 at maximum. I think my images lend themselves to be examined closer up, that way the sometimes, subtle addition of humor won’t be overlooked. However, my final goal for this project is publication, but that is a bit further off in the future. Right now I am just practicing by creating small, limited edition runs of magazines and selling them through my blog (photogeorged.blogspot.com). I am hoping that I can distribute copies, receive feedback, and save the earnings to help with the costs of book publication. Also, as a fun promotion I added a Golden Ticket to five of the fifty magazines—redeemable for a free, signed print. I wanted to do something fun in appreciation for the people interested in my work. Three tickets remain, just in case anyone was wondering.
So there you go. A little bit more about Daniel George and his work. I hope to continue this series a bit more over the next couple of weeks from people I met at SPE. So if I did meet you and we didn't exchange info drop me a line and I'll still get your work in there. Huge thanks to Daniel George and again, make sure you stop by his site.