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LIGHT WAVES — Abstract Photographs of Reflections from Lake Superior.
Released on the occasion of an exhibition at the Museum at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, in West Palm Beach Florida, 2022.
Each image in the series is available as limited edition archival pigment prints in the following editions (sizes may vary slightly from what is listed):
39.25 x 52.33 inch (100 x 133 cm) image on 44 x 56.58 inch (112 x 144 cm) paper. Edition of 1 $6,000
24 x 32 inch (61 x 81 cm) image on 28.25 x 36 inch (72 x 91 cm) paper. Edition of 1 $2800
19.5 x 26inch (50 x 66 cm) image on 23.75 x 30 inch (60 x 76 cm) paper. Edition of 1 $2000
12.5 x 16.67 inch (32 x 42 cm) image on 16.75 x 20.67 inch (43 x 53 cm) paper. Edition of 15 $750
The photographs are printed on Hahnemuhle Natural Hemp paper, made from 60% hemp and 40% cotton.
More environmentally sustainable than all-cotton papers, it is also ISO 9706 compliant / museum quality for high
age resistance. This matte fine art paper has a very slight texture.
CLICK ON IMAGES BELOW TO ENLARGE AND SEE VERTICALS FULL FRAME
A century ago Alfred Stieglitz turned his Graflex camera skyward, freeing images of clouds from the contextualizing anchor of land creating his “Equivalents” series, which many cite as the first abstract photographs.
Forty years later, Wynn Bullock created his groundbreaking series, Color Light Abstractions, with sweeping patterns reminiscent of Stieglitz’s Equivalents. Bullock’s subject matter was light, transmitted, refracted, and reflected through and from fractured glass and other materials arranged in his studio.
Now, only recently made possible through advances in digital photography and editing technology, Craig Blacklock has built upon these historic works, creating a fusion of the two in his Light Waves photographs. Like Stieglitz, Blacklock is photographing wind-driven patterns in nature, with his beloved Lake Superior supplanting Stieglitz’s clouds while embracing Bullock’s fascination with and mastery of color and light.
Light Waves is an artistic response to the shattering of the earth’s ecosystems at the dawn of the Anthropocene Epoch—simultaneously acknowledging changes and loss, while also revealing the beauty remaining to be discovered within the shards, providing a place of refuge.
My artistic practice is intrinsically linked to the interface of land and water in wilderness areas—most often Lake Superior. Since 1976 my artwork has evolved from large-format color landscapes depicting what these places looked like; to black and white nudes creating an emotional connection to the landscapes by expressing what it felt like to be within their environs; to increasingly non-representational imagery untethered from context—always with a mission to preserve the wild character of the places I photograph.
My most recent body of work, Light Waves, is a series of images isolating the complex mirror of Lake Superior’s surface, producing a purely abstract representation of the palette and textures lying outside of the frame. In the same way the barely recognizable melodic fragments of a jazz interpretation reference the original song, these images derive their structure from and pay homage to the landscape and the freshwater it is reflected in.
The process of making these images is quite spontaneous. The light and wave conditions being in constant flux, I am seeing and reacting, sometimes within seconds. From my kayak, I incorporate reflections of the shore, from the land I use elements primarily derived from the sky. The light is my paint, the waves my brush, and the camera’s sensor my canvas.
The project is brought to public view through three components, each of which is capable of standing alone, but complements the others and the core photographic component: exhibitions of large framed pigment prints on matte fine art paper with torn-edged margins, videos, and a book. In the Light Waves videos, I resurrect the lake’s movements by re-animating sequences of still images, producing time-warping effects impossible to achieve with direct video capture. A mixture of ambient and melodic audio elements transport the viewer into and through the moving images, creating an immersive, otherworldly experience.
In the book’s introduction, Daile Kaplan writes, “Water, the planet’s most elemental substance, is reimagined by Blacklock as visual metaphor. His photographs—light-infused, affecting interpretations of color and form—play with the shifting nature of perception while capturing the glorious collaboration between sun and lake in vivid color. Mono- or polychromatic photographic prints with tilde-like wavy patterns depict the lake at different times of the day and in each of the seasons. Single images and sets (diptychs and triptychs) of photographs, each untitled, present a dematerialized body of water denoting energy, fluidity, and power. Reflective image streams, with no horizon line, compositionally rely on a picture’s internal logic and the viewer’s active engagement.”
Pre-publication praise for LIGHT WAVES
Mesmerized. Your work stops me in my tracks. It pulls me in, slows me down and that’s all there is. My mind is free
— JoElle Keiski Ramsey, comment left on Facebook
The job of an effective artist is to implore the viewer — to see beneath the surface of ordinary life — to extraordinary possibility around us. In this book you’ll discover a new way to see, not just light and water, but the very rhythms of the universe.
— Joel Belmont, fine art photographer, and instructor
Craig Blacklock’s abstract impressions of the surface of Lake Superior are — well, superior! He has captured the very spirit of the water, the wind itself dancing across the surface and light dancing with it. With each page, I am awed by the beauty he has seen and captured. These are not just snapshots; they are thoughtful compositions of the many moods of the water’s surface and the play of light on it. As a fellow nature photographer who loves to photograph impressions of nature, I know the challenges he faced in creating this astounding collection of images.
— Brenda Tharp, nature photographer
Being a landscape and tintype photographer, I first became aware of Craig’s imagery through his masterpiece book, The Lake Superior Images. It ranked up with the work of Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Wynn Bullock, and Eliot Porter. Now, with Light Waves, Craig has done it again, delving closer and deeper into the Lake Superior landscape with the use of color, shape, and abstraction. Here, Craig portrays his thoughts and ideas through detailed abstract looks at nature’s palette. I invite you to look at this work, in the same way that you would stare into a fire on a cold autumn night. The colors and shapes will bring forth calm, harmony, mystery, and a primal sense of place.
— Joseph Kayne, landscape and tintype photographer
Blacklock is an inordinately talented and disciplined photographer with a body of work in league with Ansel Adams’. His incomparably unique Light Waves series demonstrates a metamorphosis as an artist as dramatic as Monet’s shift to exquisitely abstract water lilies while continuing to combine his quest for beauty with his lifelong concern with the human assault on the Earth’s biosphere.
— John Kaul, documentary filmmaker
The beauty we experience in Craig Blacklock’s photographs now takes on new dimension in these latest abstractions featured in his remarkable LIGHT WAVES. Each image celebrates the unseen forces of nature, bold and compelling imagery immersed in light, emotes an expressionist mood, the flow of energy and spectrum of tonal and color variations rarely seen beyond Aurora’s fine palette…astonishing in scope.
— Martin DeWitt, Founding Director/Curator and Emeritus Professor of the Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University and former Director/Curator of the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth. DeWitt is a practicing artist, writer and independent curator, living in Duluth, Minnesota.
One of the constants in Craig’s photographic efforts I’ve always appreciated is his ability and willingness to take risks. He shows no fear in tackling subject matter that others might shy away from. In LIGHT WAVES, he explores more than the surface of Lake Superior’s reflections. I feel motion in stills, depth in movement, as light dances with rich, fluid colors on the curves of the world’s greatest body of water with striking imagination and design.
— Layne Kennedy-Photographer
Light by itself is invisible, Only when it interacts with an object or substance does it become visible. And only when it interacts with our innermost spirit does it become meaningful. Couple that interaction with arguably the most unique and enigmatic substance on the planet, water, and Craig Blacklock’s unique vision, we are gifted with these alternately magical, subtle, and meaningful images.
— John & Ann Mahan, Great Lakes photographers, writers, educators
Fans of Lake Superior and Craig Blacklock have another reason to celebrate. Craig’s photography has taken us to a new dimension, allowing us to see patterns and complexity within the water’s surface as it moves under wind power, mixing light into intricate patterns. Nature provides beauty and inspiration, and we are lucky to have an artist who can help us discover and see its wonders. Dive in without getting wet.
— Mike link, former director of the Audubon Center, together with his wife Kate Crowley, walked around Lake Superior in 2010. Mike is currently a guest speaker for American Cruise Lines.
Installation photographs from Museum at Palm Beach Photographic Centre: