Michael Lundgren’s natural landscape photographs in his book Transfigurations published in 2008 by Radius Books are not what you might expect of this genre of photography. It is a very cerebral set of images that examine the American Southwest landscape.
His photographs are more in line with the New Topographics concept of a direct recording of what is seen in the American desert. His theme is metamorphosis and he attempts to capture that intense radiance and wide range of illumination found in the very arid Southwest American desert.
Lundgren captures subtle and brief changes as well as those changes that take longer duration’s to manifest itself, sometimes only by what a camera can capture. In the desert the essence of how things mark time becomes a gray fog blurred by the memory of time. His photographs provide evidence of change with broad and varied strokes. Such as his photographic pairing of the changing movements of earthly solid rocks with the celestial heavenly bodies.
He plays with scale and tonality and I realize that that what I am looking at is not what exactly I thought it to be. So I find myself reexamining each photograph to re-verify it’s nature. I begin to have doubts and find I need to look closer and make a more critical examination of the “facts” placed before me. A white facing page morphs into a high key desert river bottom and so I find myself returning to the previous white facing pages to reexamine these again. A black page ekes out the subtle details of a desert vista as an experience of staying the night in the desert.
The pairing of images within the book provide an interesting juxtaposition and create potentially greater thematic narratives about the essence of change. A pair of photographs; one of the bright illumination of a full moon while the facing photograph of a landscape with deep shadows are oriented such that the source of illumination within one photograph appears to emanate from the photograph of the facing page.
The photographs are printed with full edge bleeds which implies the feeling of vastness with the images running off the edges much like the endless vistas of the desert. For me in this instance the full bleed images do not appear comfortable which leaves me uneasy although I do think that this aspect of the book design is consistent with the photographer’s conceptual intent.
The book is available in a trade edition, signed version or in a limited edition with a 16 x 20″ silver gelatin photograph and your choice from any image within the book. The ability to choose which print to be included with the limited edition is a nice touch.
Best regards, Douglas Stockdale