Sub-Topia: Under Paradise Spell

Sub-Topia: Under Paradise Spell

April 17 – April 22, 2012

I make photographs about the ways in which humans interact within a specific environment and how those interactions create and affect place. My process begins by exploring society and culture and examining how we collectively and subconsciously shape our experience; through the public and private places built for and around us we open a portal into examining methods of distribution, proximity, borders, and the arrangement of the cultural landscape. The landscape becomes a stand in identity of the certain geographical locale. Front lawns, neighborhood streets, a golf course, a tree house; all can define the character of place. In the same way a scientist would research these issues using data and maps, I instead use images to explore and document the physical manifestation of civic design and its effect on lifestyle and cultural identity, and vice versa.

I see a direct correlation to how landscape and cultural identity are often influenced by and catered to auto-mobility. Highways and road space consume a vast amount of surface area in the United States and have had a profound impact on how cities are planned, buildings are designed, and greatly influences societies’ experience with the environment. My practice echoes these notions; I am an explorer, a traveler. I seek out environments that demonstrate a strong sense of place, or where that sense of place has been negated. My photographs raise questions about and offer clues to where we have come from and where we are headed. I photograph life and the world as I find it, an attempt to construct order and meaning out of seemingly chaotic constructions and subversions.

Recently I have been thinking more about the idea of “non place” and anonymity; and how the suburbs and their vernacular architecture might have those notions embedded into their construction, existence, and experience. My current investigation takes place both in the place that I live now, the DFW Metroplex, and the place in which I grew up, Houston, TX. Master planned communities frequently share a common sense of homogeny or ambiguity, and at the same time are often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. These facts bring into question the notion of anonymity inherently built into the typical suburban landscape, highlighting the fact that a sense of place can created, subverted, reinvented to fit political ideals, cultural norms, and contemporary taste of any society.

-Matthew Golden