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Ken Cook

Spotlight Info

Portfolio Title Iterations in Stone
Year of Publication 2015

Spotlight Description

Iterations in Stone

Artist Statement

The premise that began this project was simple. Photograph a unique formation of jumbled stones in the Mid Hills area of the Mojave National Preserve from the same location and same perspective over a years’ time under different light, weather, seasons, and atmospherics. The thematic principle was also simple; the body of rock or stones do not change but the world around them and us does.

The art study yielded different conclusions, iterations if you will of the original idea. I found as expected some variations in the seasonality of the desert light, but other than direction, the light changes little and of course, the stone does not change. What did change after making thousands of images and spending hundreds of hours photographing this one subject was my visual perception of this stone formation and of life.

Alone in the Mojave stillness, I captured images at all times of day and night and during these long hours the project took on a meditative quality.  Peace comes easily while working the light and one experiences a deep personal quiet. Blazing sun, cool black nights, thin clouds with a promise of rain that never came, skiffs of snow, moon and sunbeams, all presented more than light, more than time of day; they displayed nature’s harmony free of life’s daily chaos.

After each shooting session, I returned to my studio to process the RAW images and re-experienced a continuation of that quiet and stillness. Over time, I realized that I had begun to internalize this unique scene of jumbled stone, and as an artist, I had the tools to extend what I saw and felt.  I worked from pictorial images and then restated the prismatic quality of the light and arrived at iterations of the original work.  I found that in some cases the trace of stone edges was all that was needed to illustrate nature’s consistent and defining patterns. In other images, I restated the light to emphasize its dominance in the desert environment, and in several cases, I let leading colors overlay the entire image.

Twelve months and thousands of shutter clicks later I had captured six moments in time and light. In each of the six the stones remained solid, unchanging in natural time and place their highlights and shadows slightly varied by seasonal light slants, and yet that too was consistent and expected. Small changes occurred over the years’ time, but big changes occurred with me. My appreciation for the desert’s consistent peace and solitude grew exponentially with each visit and these same qualities restored a quiet that brought creative freedom to my work.  Perhaps one can find these introspective and restorative moments in other places, but for me it was Mojave National Preserve, and now I share them you.