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Photo essay Landscape

12hz

'12 Hz' is a project by photographer Ron Jude and consists of large-scale black and white images of lava tubes, tidal currents, river water and welded tuff formations. The photographs are stripped of every human dimension and give us a glimpse into the immensity of time, space and matter.

Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a photographer, and to doing what you’re doing today?

At this point, it's been a pretty long, meandering path, but at the center of it all has been a consistent fascination with the unique characteristics of photography as a visual medium. I started as an amateur enthusiast as a teenager in rural Idaho, and started to get serious about things when I began taking photography classes in college. Eventually I went to graduate school in studio art in Louisiana and from there wandered around the country, teaching and making work. After stints in Atlanta, GA , New York City and Upstate New York, I landed in Oregon and took a teaching position at University of Oregon. All along the way, I continued to make work, regardless of my circumstances, with the faith that it was worth doing. 

What would you say is your approach to photography?

My approach is a somewhat contradictory blend of traditional concerns and values mixed with a desire to make photographs that operate conceptually in the context of contemporary art, rather than the somewhat conservative world of fine art photography.

Can you tell us a bit more about the project 12hz?

The title of this work references the limits of human perception—12 Hz is the lowest sound threshold of human hearing. It suggests imperceptible forces, from plate tectonics to the ocean tides, from cycles of growth and decay in the forest, to the incomprehensibility of geological spans of time. The photographs in 12 Hz allude to the ungraspable scale and veiled mechanics of these phenomena, while acknowledging a desire to gain a broader perspective, beyond the human enterprise, in a time of ecological and political crisis.

12 Hz consists of large-scale black and white images of lava tubes, tidal currents, river water and welded tuff formations: pictures describing the raw materials of the planet, those that make organic life possible. The initial photographs were made in the state of Oregon, from the high lava plains in the Deschutes National Forest to the gorges in the Cascade Range, and the sea caves and tide pools near Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast. From there, I expanded the work to include phenomena in Iceland, Hawaii, and New Mexico.

These photographs don’t attempt to tell us how to live or what we’ve done wrong, nor do they reduce the landscape to something sentimental, tame and possessable. Rather, they endeavor to describe and reckon with forces in our physical world that operate independently of anthropocentric experience. The photographs in 12 Hzwork in service to a simple premise: that change is constant, whether we are able to perceive it or not.

- What defines a good picture for you? Or what are you looking for in a picture?

So much of what makes a "good picture" depends on context. Images can become activated by things ranging from scale and materials, to how their situated within a sequence of photographs. As I mentioned above, however, I'm still invested in a certain amount of traditional  formal rigor, along with an allowance for chance and surprise.

- Which other photographers, designers, artists or creative people are you loving at the moment?

I love the film and sound work of Joshua Bonnetta, the amazingly raw, gut-punching photography of Whitney Hubbs, the design work of Hans Gremmen, and the music of Balmorhea and Gustaf Ljunggren.

© Pictures by Ron Jude