NDAGA

Kenneth Andersen

Artist Statement

These images are a study of light, shadow, texture, form and tonality found in old farm buildings and agricultural related implements from times past that have developed their own unique texture and patina.  These tell a fascinating story of agriculture and farming practices at a much earlier time.  They bring many questions to mind when you carefully examine the details of these remnants.  It is all in the details.  A cotter pin replaced with a bolt or nail, hammer marks on the end of a shaft that didn’t want to slide smoothly into position, etc.   Weathered wood, rusted steel, some at least 100 years old.  

In 2011, I started this project photographing with a large format view camera, of once used agricultural objects that are just lying around in the fields and shelterbelts.  These objects of agricultural implements or agricultural architecture are the study of the detail contained within the object.   To make this more of a challenge, I have placed constraints on this project.  I have selected an area within a 3 mile radius of my registered North Dakota Centennial Farm located in western Cass County.  The distance is somewhat arbitrary, but yet logical.  The 3 mile radius is a 6 mile diameter circle, the distance of one side of a township.  The Township contains 36 square miles and my circle of confusion contains 28.26 square miles.  I am focusing on this vast area to record as many images as I can locate.  It is a challenge that will take several years to complete, if it can ever be completed.  How many images can I find?  Who knows, it could be 50, 100 maybe 500.  This is the type of vast landscape you drive through because there is nothing to photograph.   You have stop and look down at your feet and you will find textures and form all around, too much to take in at one time.  This is my way of recording the past from the details that have been left behind by the early farmers, my relatives, and neighbor’s.  The window of the stone house is over 100 years old, the fence post was put in by my Grandfather, and the knot in the tree is from one of the original shelterbelts.  The tree is approximately 4 foot in diameter and the knot is very high up on the tree, which was somewhat of a challenge to get the view camera up that high on a stable platform.  In one case, I located a rock pile in the middle of a quarter section field that has yielded a treasure trove of objects, textures, and details from the past. 

The large format view camera is my choice of tools in which to create this body of work for several reasons.

·      The view camera gives me more control in creating the image.

·      With the view camera I have the luxury of both swings and tilts on the film plane and lens plane to control the prospective and the plane of focus, which is not afforded to users of the large format press camera or a 35mm digital or film camera.

·      I can make conscious choices of which lens and filter combination to use for any given situation.

·      It is a slow, precise, and methodical process that allows me to carefully consider the composition.

·      As I am setting up the camera other possible images reveal themselves.

·      The process provides me instant gratification as I can view the image and composition on the ground glass before I make the exposure. 

·      I can play with this whole process and contemplate the image that I am trying to create, ask questions to myself and wonder about the past, with just me, my camera and the wind.

·      The large format 4” X 5” and 8” X 10” film records detail and tonality that is difficult to obtain in any other format.

At times the light changes or the image is not what I would like and I take everything apart, pack it up, and come back another day without making an exposure.  It is all in the light and the control of the light, whether natural or manmade.  Light is Light.

I process the film with an early 1900’s PMK pyro staining developer; the negatives are scanned and digitally printed.   I don’t find a conflict in combining old and new technologies.  With this approach I am able to combine the best of both worlds.  However, I am very careful to use Photoshop as a tool no different than I would use in the darkroom.  I am not a Photoshop expert.   Negatives have stood the test of time.   My original negatives are stored in archival boxes and will be preserved long after the hard drive crashes and new digital technologies become available.  It should also be noted that the view camera and lenses I use are all brand new, or at least purchased new in the last few years.  I also have original Graphic press cameras that are used on rare occasions.  The old Graphic cameras don’t afford me the flexibility and sharpness of the new view camera lenses and camera bodies.

I am obsessed with the luxury of creating images and art on my own time without any outside pressure.  I am currently collecting the appropriate chemicals and equipment to hand make my own photographic papers using 1800’s and early 1900’s photographic techniques.  These are contact printed images that use salt printing, albumen and carbon printing processes.  Further, I am moving back into the darkroom and creating traditional prints.  Like many others I started taking pictures for my high school newspaper and the local news media.  I still have and occasionally use the medium format Crown Graphic camera and flashbulbs that I started with in high school over 50 years ago.