Lament

“Towering up within itself, the work opens up a world and keeps it abidingly in force.”

— Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”

Several years ago, I came across a fascinating exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. At the time, the keynote gallery was dedicated to the powerful, haunting images of The Architect’s Brother by Robert ParkeHarrison. Of all the photographic artwork that I have encountered, few have had such a lasting impression on me. Whimsically archaic, dissonant, and yet lyrical, these photographs seem to silently absorb the sombre cries of Eliot’s “Wasteland” as they attempt to narrate the limits of technological rationality, industrial progress, and humanity’s fractured relation to (that is, its domination of) earth and soil. In his words,

“My photographs tell stories of loss, human struggle, and personal exploration within landscapes scarred by technology and over-use. . . . [They] strive to metaphorically and poetically link laborious actions, idiosyncratic rituals and strangely crude machines into tales about our modern experience.”

The following are a few of the pieces that I have found particularly striking.

“Mending the Earth”

Robert ParkeHarrison - Mending the Earth

“Pollination” 

Robert ParkeHarrison - Pollination

“Breathing Machine”

Robert ParkeHarrison - Breathing Machine

“The Collector”

Robert ParkeHarrison - The Collector

“The Exchange”

Robert ParkeHarrison - The Exchange 

“Tree Stories”

Robert ParkeHarrison - Tree Stories 

“Garden of Selves”

Robert ParkeHarrison - Garden of Selves

 

Recently, Robert ParkeHarrison and his wife Shana have released a second project entitled “Counterpoint.” The official blurb reads as follows:

“Nearly a decade after the publication of The Architect’s Brother, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison will be releasing their second title which revisits themes explored in the first book including man’s destruction and healing of the planet. Shot in color, the photographs also utilize the ParkeHarrisons’ early technique of applying pigment by hand, directly to their large-scale prints. Robert ParkeHarrison once again appears as the Everyman of the book’s visual narrative–one who despite the will to effect change, is all too often rendered impotent and ineffectual. The ParkeHarrisons also explore the epic landscape as a metaphor for the state of mankind, particularly alluding to recent natural disasters and their aftermath.”

Among the gems are:

“Nightwork”

ParkeHarrison - Nightwork

“Spring Arm”

ParkeHarrison - Spring Arm

 

“Summer Arm” 

ParkeHarrison - Summer Arm

“Winter Arm”

ParkeHarrison - Winter Arm

 “Gray Dawn” 

ParkeHarrison - Gray Dawn

 

For more see www.parkeharrison.com, www.geh.org/parkeharrison, and the photobook.

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About Ben Kautzer

I am currently dwelling in the intangible space of the between. Having finished my MA in Philosophical Theology at the University of Nottingham, I decided to take a bit of a break, return to California, and start applying for PhD programs. That process is finally drawing to a close. This Fall I will be commencing my doctoral research in political theology at either the University of Nottingham, Durham, or Bristol. As of yet, that future still remains (uncomfortably) uncertain. My recent academic pursuits tend to focus on political theology (ecclesiology, ethics, politics, liturgy), biblical theology (scriptural narrative, hermeneutics, philosophy of memory and historical method), and Continental Philosophy (especially phenomenology). View all posts by Ben Kautzer

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