Set against pastel pink and purple skies, the Martian-looking vistas in Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman’s “Processed Views: Surveying the Industrial Landscape,” were actually made much closer to home. Made to resemble 19th century views by Carleton Watkins, Ciurej and Lochman’s images are constructed from materials at “the frontier of industrial food production: the seductive and alarming intersection of nature and technology,” as they write in a statement. “As we move further away from the sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
The connection to Watkins is fundamental to the project. Watkins photographed the still-pristine American West for companies interested in expanding there, making beautiful pictures that helped open the land to exploitation. “Many of Watkins’s photographs were commissioned by the corporate interests of the day; the Central Pacific Railroad, the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, North Bloomfield Mining and Gravel Company and other lumber and milling interests,” the pair said in a recent interview. In their own seductive images, hills of neon cake and fried pork skins, mountains of Bologna and white bread are beautiful to look at—and maybe delicious to eat—but ultimately poisonous. “‘Processed Views’ reflects our concern with current trends in consumption, ideas of progress and the changing geography of our country. All indications are that we are headed into an uncharted, unbalanced, unnatural territory. This terrain is garnished with unintended consequences for our health and for the environment. Why must we thoughtlessly degrade the soil by our technological-agricultural experiments? We must re-evaluate our man-made ‘utopias,'” they say.
The pair, who met while students at the Institute of Design in Chicago in the late 1970s and have worked together since, have found a wide audience with the series, which has been featured in a number of publications and blogs since it debuted in 2014. The images are now on view in person until January 30 at Martine Chaisson Gallery Gallery in New Orleans.
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