These images are part of an ongoing photographic encounter with the vast, diverse and taken-for-granted kingdom upon which humans are dependent and with which they share a common origin.
Though I have been shooting plants in a variety of settings, the subjects of these photographs were in botanical gardens. While any place can, in general, be a good place to photograph, gardens are particularly suitable for the photographing of plants in that they are themselves akin to art works. Bounded spaces within which to wander, purposes suspended, they allow the visitor to encounter the tended nature within as they would a work of art - freely, mindfully.
Though these images owe their character in some degree to the locations of their subjects, most are not primarily about the gardens themselves. Through careful initial framing, cropping, and conventional adjustment of hue and value, the perception of recorded place is diminished. Nor are they recordings of gardener-created still lives. The plants have been arranged not for the camera but by the camera.
Outside the garden, because they do not have voice or self-movement except through growth and decay which occur on a time scale below the threshold of normal human perception, plants exist quiescently on the periphery of our everyday attention, murkily understood but not seen.. When we do ponder them at all, we turn away from their apparent contradictions - purposefulness without purpose; functional movement without action; display without audience; expression without self - by seeing them as dormant lesser animal or feebly ensouled matter.
The purpose of these images is to show through still, photographic, pictorial representation, the in-between vitality of plants, to give them voice, to bridge the gap between two different temporalities, to allow them to be seen. The argument that such represented vitality belongs to the representation not to plants themselves and is hence just an illusion dismisses all art which is precisely the garden of illusion that, relieving us of our preoccupation with the how of things, shows us what they truly are.
© David Bartlett/Silver and Ink