Barry Underwood

Scenes

As a series of long-exposure photographic images, Scenes documents temporary sculptural structures built on-site in specific landscapes. I construct these tableaus by immersing myself in a given place, researching and instinctively reading the landscape, and then marking the site through using foreign materials (LED lights, luminescent substances, and other physical processes) to emphasize and to call attention to environmental blight. In the final prints, lights and sculptural alterations appear as intrusions. This creates tension between bucolic settings and surreal abstract marks. Conceptually the work is situated at the intersection of land art, staged photography, and Minimalist sculpture.

My innate curiosity about the ecological and social history of specific places drives my practice. I strive to foster awareness of environmental change by engaging viewers in playful interactions, offering a novel lens through which to consider the impact of human action on our surroundings, both locally and on a larger scale. The landscape has been and continues to be altered by ambitious human activities linked to political, social, economic, climactic, and aesthetic forces. I am particularly interested in connections between land use and the interpretation of a landscape as a politically symbolic environment, reflecting human activity and one’s own self-definition, as well as our values and beliefs. Consequently, the agricultural, industrial, social, and recreational use of each location becomes central to my artwork.

Using shapes, lines, light, geometry and especially color, my photographs reflect human disturbances, ¬†metaphorically suggesting how society divides and surveys landscapes or how humans force their will on the natural environment. By imposing flat and abrasive color (or light) onto a site, my photographic work contrasts human interference with the visually rich, wide tonal range of a natural landscape’s ambient hues. Throughout these Scenes, geometric forms obstruct organic elements to suggest how humans alter their landscape.