over & under implores us to go out into nature. “Get out there! Go and see what you’re missing! Remember what you have forgotten!” However, Colby Caldwell is not asking us to do so as we have in the past. Technology has changed immensely in the last century and even since the start of the new millennium. Looking down at our phones, we are inundated with imagery of the natural world. Nature has become a far-fetched idea, something we must go out of our way to seek and engage with. over & under preserves an environment we have come to discount and ignore. With this disregard we have developed, the bold photographs in the exhibition allow us to reconsider our relationship with that which sustains us.
In previous bodies of work, Colby Caldwell bridged the gap between representation and abstraction, often bringing organic objects into his studio to shoot. Over the last two years, Caldwell has traversed the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains armed with a collection of flatbed scanners as his camera, noticing nuances we are so quick to dismiss: fuzzy green moss blanketing root systems, and abandoned leaves tumbling into intricate mosaics. Moving over the forest floor and tracing lines of trees, Caldwell has recorded the natural world with the unnatural light emitted by the scanner. He continues to push what it means to be a photographer by recording his surroundings in curious ways. The discernable pieces of information in over & under are distorted, jumbled and inherently mystifying. While the scanner abstracts imagery, the final product presents us with the truth of our surroundings through the digital lens of the world today.
Caldwell’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Corcoran College of Art + Design in 1990 and currently lives and works in Asheville, NC.