Unmanned Landscapes

I believe we are products of our environment. As such, I am the result of my formative years being spent in a 1960’s era suburban housing development in upstate New York. This project began with a desire to reconnect with that past when I found myself living in a modern-day tract housing community on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia, after spending years living in a major city. Yet, the current suburban landscape cannot be viewed through the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia alone. The resource inefficient suburban lifestyle has contributed to water shortages, global warming and the recent economic recession. Thus, as an adult I find my relationship with this setting more complex than it once was. These works are a reexamination of spaces reminiscent of my childhood home.

Simultaneous to my move to Georgia was the advent of affordable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, more commonly referred to as drones. This technology democratized aerial photography and has contributed to a redefinition of the line between private and public spaces.  For these reasons, I believe an inexpensive, consumer-grade drone is an ideal tool to investigate the added complexities of living in the suburbs. “Unmanned Landscapes” utilizes the aerial vantage point to transform the landscape into abstract visual forms with the intention of altering how we perceive and interpret these spaces. This project explores a variety of concepts, including surveillance, planning of the built environment, suburban lifestyle and property ownership and demarcation.

Each large-format photograph is the result of seamlessly stitching together hundreds of separate exposures. This workflow was inspired by methods utilized in cartography and archaeological research. Constructing these composite images allows me to control what is revealed about the landscape in a way that a single frame cannot do.

 “Unmanned Landscapes” is equally about my past and the future of society.  Since we are the products of our environment, the reverse is true as well: our environment is the product of its inhabitants.  As my wife and I expect our first child, I often wonder what type of environment he or she will inherit and help create.