Reed Estabrook

Photographer and Educator

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Seeing Red

1984-1990

Seeing Red is a first response to living on the fabled California landscape and attempts to address humankind's involvement with the land and photography's role therein.…
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Seeing Red is a first response to living on the fabled California landscape and attempts to address humankind's involvement with the land and photography's role therein. In these large color photographs, 5 x 7 ft, the landscape is intruded upon by an external presence - an uncomfortably close, strangely lit, and out of focus object - a camera?

I would like to believe that the tension thus created causes these photographs to exist within three separate, yet simultaneous planes of awareness: the landscape, the intruder and the viewer. Us. At some level, we are the maker of every photograph we behold. Unlike other media, the photograph does not point back at the maker. We, the viewer, become the maker: the photograph is a story told in the first person.

As such, the work raises questions of responsibility with regard to photographic images and their relationship to the landscape. At issue: the landscape and man's alteration of it, the camera and the photographic act, and our collective responsibility as viewers and individuals to the land. Does photographic celebration of the landscape contribute to its well being? Or does it perpetuate a fiction? Have we created the illusion for ourselves that to photograph is to contribute? And by extension, have we come to think that simple knowledge of something constitutes effective response there to?

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