Home PageArchivesVolume no. 1Photography: Middleton

Black Rock Desert

Gwynne Middleton

Akin to 1960s earth artist, Robert Smithson, one of my goals as an artist is to disrupt the perceptual familiarity of traditional landscape. As Smithson says in my favorite collection of his work, “Only when art is fragmented, discontinuous and incomplete can we know about that vacant eternity that excludes objects and determined meanings.”

Most of my photographic work relies on standard modernist “straight” photography techniques. I use natural light afforded in outdoor scenes and prefer to physically manipulate images in the set-up rather than apply darkroom manipulation strategies once the image has been made. This particular image was taken in 2007 during a camping trip/ photo shoot on the playa in the Black Rock Desert, a region of Nevada I visited numerous times during my three years in Reno.

My aim for this photo was to employ the reflective planes of the mirror to encourage viewers to re-evaluate ingrained aesthetic values about landscape. Like Smithson, I believe that human perceptions which separate nature and culture limit our engagement with the “natural world” and that the deepest understanding of human/non-human nature reveals itself in blurring the boundary between nature and culture.


Gwynne Middleton, Managing Editor

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