November 1 to 30, 2019

Manifest Obscura

Ramey Newell

Opening Friday, November 1, 7pm

The images in the Manifest Obscura series combine analog photography and microbial processes to complicate aesthetic, historical and ecological understandings of western landscapes. The soft, dreamlike pinhole images immediately frustrate the desire to consume and fetishize a detailed landscape as sublime “Nature”—a desire central to the traditions of monumental landscape painting and large-format photography. Precision is eschewed in favour of ambiguity—the landscapes are familiar yet unidentifiable. Microbes collected from each landscape further assert their own image of the world in place of ours, reconfiguring minerals and chemicals to further obscure an image-world we thought we knew. Only here does visual detail emerge, but this intervention is also partial, as is our access to it. The specific microbes and processes at play remain inaccessible; all we can see are their traces. Co-opting the materials of science as tools of obfuscation, these images question the limits of its epistemological framework in a time of ecological urgency. Visual and scientific knowledge intentionally fail as agency is distributed among relational entities and shifts toward nonhuman interlocutors; what emerges is a possible space of other ways of imaging, other ways of imagining, other ways of knowing. Immense spatial and temporal scales, both human and nonhuman, collapse in on themselves. Lifeforms and image, locked in material embrace, both cultivate and destroy the other.

Ramey Newell is an artist and filmmaker whose work explores issues relating to ecology and mass extinction, scientific epistemologies, anthropocentrism, mythologies of the American West and the expectations of documentary image. Her work has been shown in festivals, galleries and museums throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. She holds a BFA in Photography from New Mexico State University, a graduate certificate in Documentary Media from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia. Ramey currently lives and works in the North Okanagan Valley, BC.
From the deep ground, Ramey Newell, 2018, inkjet print, 150x193cm; From the deep ground (detail).