There is a quality in Samantha Salzinger‘s photographs which may prompt the viewer to ask “Is that real?” Images of seemingly naturally occurring phenomenon are infiltrated by lookalikes. In her photography, Salzinger creates detailed and delicate models of romantic environments, and she captures the microenvironments with her digital SLR camera. Romantic and forlorn, her works are evocative of landscapes from literature, cinema, and the history of art.
For example, the water in Salzinger’s Untitled #4, appears as a contemporary interpretation of Caspar David Friedrich’s seminal painting, Monk by the Sea, a canvas featuring muted colors but also a dramatic seascape. To some, Friedrich’s renditions of natural phenomena are considered the epitome of landscape painting and the sublime.
In addition to her still photography, Salzinger also offers video work for In Residence. In Hyperdimensional Hurricane (shown below), Salzinger created a maquette with cotton and black paper. Fastidiously capturing each modulation of the cotton, Salzinger was able to create a video that shows the mass of wind and moisture that forms a hurricane, but embedded in the eye of the storm are changing religious symbols, from Stars of David to pentagrams.
Salzinger is a self-described science geek, and while working in her studio one day, she heard an interview with rogue physicist Richard Hoaglund. Although Hoaglund has been employed by major network television companies, his ideas about the weather and space are not widely accepted by the academic community. But for Salzinger, they were one way to think about the effects of human actions on the environment. Hoaglund’s theories posit that human ideas about the formation of the world are encoded in natural disasters.
Salzinger’s video not only visualizes some of the prophesies of religious thinking, but also puts forth contemporary conspiracy theories. Her video seems particularly appropriate today when global warming has intensified natural disasters. She makes a wry comment on how we can sometimes perceive what we want to see—in this case, Hoaglund and his followers determine religious meaning in empirical phenomena. Despite the faux nature of the materials she uses—sometimes cotton balls, green foam, cellophane, or potting soil—Salzinger’s images conjure both landscape—in Schama’s terms culture—religion, and nature.
As is true of other work in the exhibition, Salzinger’s photography and video offerings remind us of the dark, harmful side of our contemporary society and what it can do to our fragile environment.
More about Samantha Salzinger
Her works explore the fabricated environment questioning the collective mind of the age, where reality is as malleable as a simulation and a simulation as lifelike as reality. Projecting mysterious places in an era of genesis, the images reference ideologies of popular culture that play to our fantasies, fears and desires. The metaphoric creation of the idyllic, sublime landscape, act as core unconscious escapism. Weaving together the awe of the grandeur of nature with science fiction, the viewer is dreamer in an imaginary world, optimistic of the future.