Most photographers are content with the results they get out of their cameras, trusting the camera to solely capture their art. For some, there needs to be a bit of alchemy. For Melbourne-based photographer and artist Rebecca Najdowski, such routine is more gratifying; thus, came her textured series Ambient Pressure.
Over the last few years, many photographers have chosen the topic of Nature and Humanity's relationship with each other – often unearthing issues of global warming and to quote Rebecca, the 'extreme environmental shifts brought by the anthropocene'. Ambient Pressure is Rebecca's visual representation of the relationship, but more importantly, a daring, boundary-pushing experiment on landscape photography.
"I was attempting to interrupt the ‘frame’ of photography and draw attention to its existence. The object-ness of the artworks are revealed through the manipulation, and it becomes difficult to view them as ‘windows’ onto an environment. Instead, they point to evidence that a photograph is, in fact, a construction. The title, Ambient Pressure, is derived from the term which describes the pressure of a medium which surrounds an object. I found this to be fitting for a project that is fundamentally concerned with the weightiness of nature representation. Ambient pressure also connects to the process of making the work, where physical tension is used to create tangible ruptures in the photographs."
For Rebecca, creating this series requires two work processes and compositions. First is capturing the photograph itself and processing the negatives. The series was taken with 120 mm film with her Mamiya 7II. Rebecca's landscape shots span for over a decade, at first with no context and intention than to capture the beauty of geography. Rebecca would focus on details, patterns, colors, and texture so as to still be able to communicate to the audience visually despite the project being majorly conceptual.
The second process starts with the initial negative. In this stage, Rebecca thinks of creative ways to 'mess' with the photograph. Each image is treated differently – some scratched, punctured, stained – depending on Rebecca's intuition. Ultimately, Ambient Pressure aims to break the conventions of landscape photography, opening a new way of creating and interpreting:
"...Consider what associations a viewer might make about an image and think about how can you shift perspective so that it’s seen anew. A big challenge, and also a gift, of photography in the last decade or so is that it’s been democratized and most everyone has access. This has only enhanced the fact that we tend to make similar images; there’s almost a template to each genre of photography. In this photographic environment, I would urge photographers to consider how they can work against the conventions of their field and think about how they might visually communicate differently. It’s really important to be self-aware and recognize what our choices say about our particular perspective of the subject matter."
Rebecca's set on continuing Ambient Pressure. and is currently in collaboration with another artist, Vivian Cooper Smith. Both have different methodologies, but Rebecca's enthusiastic in translating her series into the moving image. She's also currently working with another project using augmented reality – one that touches how humans comprehend with the world through representations of nature.