“I never want to see another picture of ________.” Industry veterans share their pet peeves on themes in contemporary photography. In this series they present their “rule” along with five photographs that break the rule in an effort to show that great work is the exception to the rule.
I never want to see another picture of a science experiment gone wrong. As an avid armchair scientist, I find myself sitting down with many photographers showing me visions of molding fruit, decaying coffee, empty used food plates, icicle abstracts and kaleidoscope visions of rock textures. I am all for our examination of the natural world. I am all in to see the micro and macro views of our microbes and monoliths. In my studies of historical geologic processes, my best day was a day in the field working to understand how a rock gets from a mineral state to road cut outcrop. My biggest roadblock to a great image is when the creative technique overwhelms object and idea.
Just when I had given up on the simplicity of exposing a subject that I care so much for, I find Liz Hickok’s new series Ground Waters reinvigorating my faith in the intersection of science and art. I have always been a big fan of Hickok’s creative, unique way of merging process and substance. Her Jell-O series done back in 2008 was what hooked me as a fan. It is this new series, Ground Waters that really explores the intersection of science, environment and technology. By building extensive sets, or structural elements, flooding these constructions with a liquid crystal solution and letting them decay and grow over days and months, Hickok chronicles their rise and demise as they overtake the structures. In creating her own geologic timeline, being patient yields vibrant weird results. Her images give us a deeper narrative to chew on, that of toxicity, of the chemicals we ingest, what are we dumping into our water systems and how is it affecting not only our environment but us? Her entre into that conversation is playful, interesting and refreshing. It not only has me asking how she creates the work, but also furthers conversation about why the work is important. I can’t stop looking at it.