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Frank Sirona
No compromises
Artist's statement
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Frank Sirona with large format camera

My Landscape photography is an attempt to combine two antagonistic ways of perceiving the natural world: The views of the painter and of the scientist.

The painter is interested in the gross picture, he works with lines, shapes, colours. He seeks harmony and is concerned with composition. His goal is to make the audience see what can be seen, and perhaps to make them experience what can not be seen. The scientist, on the other hand, does not have an eye for the scenery as a whole. He is eager to learn about causality, natural forces and their interactions, determinism. He seeks for explanations why things are the way they are, and he tries to trace back natural phenomena to laws of nature.

While the painter would see the curved, female shapes of a dune and the play of light and shadow on it when the sun is low, the scientist would investigate the individual grain of sand. He would derive the overall shape, the angle of slope and how the dune´s form is changing in time, from the physical properties of a single grain. If both were given a camera, the painter would do what we know as "classic" landscape photography. The scientist, in turn, would prefer shooting closeups: focussing on structures, surfaces, textures, all of them revealing the effects of natural forces at work - and in doing so he would capture explanations for why the natural world is as we experience it. His photographs would unveil the porosity of a certain sort of rock, letting us understand this rock´s susceptibility to freeze-thaw cycles of trapped water which cause its particular erosion patterns. They would show the air bubbles entrapped in a sheet of ice, thus prooving the availability of oxygen for submarine life. They would disclose that no two leaves on one and the same tree are exactly identical, telling us about the interaction of self organization and random events during plant development.

The use of large format cameras and of an elaborated downstream process for printmaking allows me to combine both perceptions of the natural world in a single photograph. I´m aiming at photographs comprising two very different, but nevertheless intertwined levels: a romantic, emotional one and a purely analytic one. Since both levels are to be found on different size scales, blending these two views in a single photograph requires extreme optical resolution. I therefore use (despite their weight, which doesn´t make them prime candidates for field use) 5 x 7" and 5 x 13" cameras for my work. For the same reason, I prefer print sizes not smaller than 30 x 40". Using highest quality photographic paper and employing "UltraSec® M" face-mounting to anti-reflective museum glass provides to the prints a maximum of brilliance which further enhances the photographs´ extreme richness of detail. Thus, years of carefully adjusting a plethora of technical parameters now allows me to combine in my images the two complementary views to the world, the views of the painter and of the scientist.