Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jim Sanborn :: Photographs

Horse Valley, Utah IV, (c) 1996.

Text Projection: Blue Mesa, Utah
, (c) 1995.

From an interview with Jim Sanborn by Milena Kalinovska in Atomic Time: Pure Science and Seduction (Washington, D.C.,: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2003):

From 1995 to 1998, I did a series of installations in the western United States. I had to give my espionage work a rest as it had taken a lot out of me. I decided to do a series of projects in the environment. I returned to the western landscape and completed a series of large-format projections in remote areas. My original intention was to recreate in some way the work of the nineteenth-century cartographers and photographers who were hired to map and photograph the monumental western landscape. […]

Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, James Turrell, and other artists were doing large-scale installations in the natural environment. Those projects affected the land tremendously, and not always with a pleasing effect on the environment. Bulldozers were brought onto the land, and the land itself was manipulated. I decided to counteract that in some way and still do very large outdoor installations. I had completed several in the early 1970s in which I placed objects in the environment, and the end result was photographs of the outdoor installations. […]

I learned to overpower natural daylight with large-format projections that I did for MIT in Cambridge in 1993. The projector I used at MIT was very expensive, so for this project I ordered the lenses and some of the mechanical parts from Austria and built my own. I got a large generator and put this equipment in the back of my four-wheel-drive vehicle and drove into remote areas of the West to do some very large-scale projections. I began doing these projections by testing them from my studio in Washington. I was able to project gigantic images on a warehouse a quarter mile away. I practiced in the urban environment and then took it into the wilderness. I took a 4x5 camera with me, and the projector I designed was like a gigantic slide projector that used 10x10-inch slides. I worked with a typography company that generated maybe a hundred different transparency images that I had drawn. I designed these
slide images based on Euclidean geometry. […]

I had to choose remote sites so that I didn’t get any lighting from cities or vehicles. The projections I was producing were so large and powerful that I knew they could be seen from miles away. I had to be in areas where I could work for five or six hours before anybody reached me. I was able to make images as wide as half a mile and have a very large impact on the environment without leaving a trace of what I had done. To me that was very important. I considered it a very gorgeous landscape, and I didn’t want to muck it up.[…]