An artist’s adoption of new creative technology begins with a period of play. The early work displays an infatuation with the newness of the tool. Later, the artistic use of a new technology reveals its aesthetic power. Viewers shift their focus from the technique to the content. We stop talking about the brush and start talking about the painting. Art is presently emerging from an era of play into a time when we begin to see new art take form.
There is something new in Anne Rowland’s pictures. She gathers - or shall we say harvests - images from online aerial photography services and satellite photographs taken by automated systems intended for commercial use. Working with a concert of digital applications, Rowland mends together hundreds of photos into an image of the vast landscape below. Then she slices, stirs, and enfolds the once coherent picture plane into an organic presence. In the artist’s hands, the earth is prompted to express its rage, pathos, and limitless ability to be awe-inspiringly beautiful. The work is strange and seductive, as new art always is.
We may automatically identify Rowland’s work as photography but feel it is something else – holding something beyond the grasp of straight photography. The artist’s energetic manipulation of the imagery evokes the artistry of painting and the way painting generates meaning. These hybrid artworks fantasize a god-like power to reform the planet. The harvested, assembled, then dismantled, and reassembled pictures of the reconstructed aerial landscapes offer a release from the deer-in-headlights passivity of our waiting for the next environmental disaster to roll over the land. Rowland’s pictures ask us to think differently and at a much grander scale, proving once again that the power of art is in how it changes the way we think.
Anne Rowland received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the joint program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and Tufts University, Medford, MA, with additional studies at the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. This is her third solo exhibition at HEMPHILL since 2006.