American artist Phillip K. Smith III found inspiration from the most basic of places in his recent project, Lucid Stead. Taking a small cabin which had been slowly eroded by the harsh environments of the Joshua Tree Desert for seventy years, Smith III modified the existing structure, adding mirrors between aged wood slats and changing LED panels to the door and window frames. By day, the desert scenery is reflected upon the modified mirrored slats, while the piece illuminates the desert landscape by night. The artist explains Lucid Stead, “This project is about tapping into the desert, into the pace of change, and is about responding to the quiet of the place. And ultimately, in that quite, the project begins to unfold.”
While the piece has a decidedly aesthetic-first quality, Smith explains that there are four ideas at play in Lucid Stead - “Light and Shadow” (the interaction with the sun, and changes in the reflections of its light), “Reflected Light” (within the mirrors, using the desert as a medium placed on the shack), “Projected Light” (the LED lights within the shack, pure color illuminating the cracks and openings of the structure), and “Change” (the shifting colors of the lights, which change so slowly as to be almost unnoticed). Smith III continues, “The project really is about slowing down…stopping and being quite so you can truly see and listen.” (via from89 and designboom, additional images via Kevin Smith, archinect)
The photography of Amanda Charchian is like a vaguely familiar dream. Her series featured here make a strange sort of sense in much the way a dreams do. Titled When There is Nothing Left to Burn, You Have to Set Yourself on Fire, Charchian makes use of an all female cast of subjects, primary coloring, peculiar lighting, and hazily 1970′s fashion photography aesthetic for an understated surreal atmosphere. However, she especially makes skillful use of the scenery blending all of the components into one sun-induced hallucination. Interestingly, she says of her process:
“I really enjoy what I do, so I am constantly working. I am very fast paced and I like working in a trance state, so it doesn’t suit me to adhere to a particular plan. The process always starts with that sort of light bulb flash (usually when I am doing something really mundane), and then I refine the concept. With that concept lurking, the physical making of the work always becomes very intuitive.” (via)
The images of photographer Álvaro Sánchez-Montañés‘ series Indoor Desert seem like elaborate installations. However, he actually found them this way. These buildings were once part of a town named Kolmanskop in southern Namibia. It had been situated near a gold mine. When the mine ran dry it was abandoned as was the town. The strong winds quickly overtook the town filling its buildings with the sand of the nearby Namib desert. The homes now filled with desert instead of families only emphasizes each photographs loneliness and underscores the immense power of nature.
Chris Sisarich’s photo series Somewhere In The Middle of Nowhere hits home here in Los Angeles, a city built in a desert. The series looks like it could have been anywhere around the world–saudi arabia, egypt, arizona, china, california– and speaks to our constant search for new places for sprawl development and the global warming it’s causing, to our persistance and the futileness of it all. Sisarich’s images, like the desert, are some of the driest, palest images i’ve seen in a while, and with humanity only peripherally represented, the might seem like predictions for our uncertain future. But they don’t feel pessimistic, just as if humanity was this interesting thing that out grew its planet and left behind some neat objects when it left. Whether or not you think the images are prophetic, optimistic, pessimistic, or anything else, they are at the lest very handsome images.