When I moved to New York in 1979, 1 made paintings for years until I was bored with painting itself and decided to switch to photography, or at least my version of photography. That was in 1991. 1 had been admiring Cindy Sherman’s wonderful colored cibachrome versions of setups of herself. I spent several months thinking about my own kind of landscape setups in which I would keep everything in focus, as one would see the real landscape and not add any extra elements, like toy cars, dolls, or other figures. I would shoot with a large format (4×5) camera and I wouldn’t worry about some areas being too abstract. I still apply these rules to all my work.
Working in my studio and shooting the 4×5 transparancies of the aquarium setup in my apartment is half the creative process. Getting the film back is when I really see if I have made something interesting or just average. Most are just average but sometimes I get that wonderful surprise and feeling of elation of seeing one that really works. The fact is, I have no idea whether the work will be interesting or not until I see the film. I’m usually shooting so fast, if one can shoot fast with a camera that large, that after 7 or 8 shots I don’t know what I have. It’s necessary to shoot quickly since the paint I pour into the water for clouds dissipates and moves around the plaster mountains in an unpredictable way as real clouds would through mountain passes.
It’s so much fun to see the paint clouds move through the water and it all starts to look so real, I feel like I’m watching a movie or I’ve been transported to this lilliputian world of my own creation. I guess I’m an escapist at heart.
Over a period of time the plaster mountains start to erode and debris starts to pile up around them. With a little help, I cut river valleys through them and am reminded of the real erosion that mountains go through over millions of years. If I work with the same model for some months, the mountains erode down to hills. The more erosion that takes place, the more the model takes on a life of its own and begins to lose any quality of having been hand-built that it may have had. It all starts to look like fractals””,”