The concept behind my “Always Land” project is the idea of trying to visually create a fictional and utopian place. I continued to work with my technique of creating a set out of paper and objects, back lighting it, and photographing it. This work was personally motivated by a need for mental sanctuary. My depression sometimes becomes so bleak that I can’t even remember the good things in life. This piece serves as a meditative reminder and anchor when I feel overwhelmed. I incorporated personally and universally loved things like animals, a waterfall, and a sunset. I hope that the viewer can feel the positive intention in this work beyond appreciating it’s aesthetics.
After many, many changes I finally produced a final image that looks as close to beautiful as I can imagine.
I also shot close up photos of various parts of “Always Land” (see below). This was done in an effort to give the viewer a closer look at what’s going on in this place. Cropping the images circularly was done to give the impression of looking through a port hole or a microscope. I imagined what it would be like floating around and seeing things from different vantages. It also represents the act of laying back, observing, and becoming one with nature. This brings to mind the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” also known as eco-therapy. Being in nature has been proven to be of benefit to people as not only a form of relaxation, it also brings physiological improvements such as boosting the immune system, lowering stress hormones, and lowering blood pressure. These are all aspects I thought of as I worked.
Making “Always Land” proved to be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I really wanted to create my best depiction of utopia and with the bar set that high, at times it seemed almost impossible. I spent hundreds of hours creating, adding, removing, and adjusting various portions of the set up. In the process I shot over 3,000 photos. This video gives an overview of the progression of the project from the very beginning until the end. In it you will see drawings on some of the images. This was my way of noting to myself the areas that I wanted to fix along the way. Every adjustment was carefully made in conjunction with the lighting for the camera.