If you’re familiar with Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), then you will find Barbara Ciurej’s and Lindsay Lochman’s Processed Views strikingly recognizable. Even though upon first glance, the subject matter isn’t entirely related.
Watkins was commissioned by the California Geographical Survey to document the westward expansion of the USA, specifically industrial development. His successful career was made possible because he also catered to railroad companies and other corporate interests of the time. They wanted him to advertise the American West as a land that can host infinite industry and consumption for White Americans.
Ciurej and Lochman took inspiration from Watkins’ landscape compositions and documentation of the USA’s frontier and transformed this idea into representing the modern, industrial food production frontier. They say in their artist statement, “As we move further away from the sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory, replete with unintended consequences for both the environment and our health.”
In both Ciurej/Lochman’s and Watkins’ work, they reflect on progress, industry, consumption, and changing landscapes. How quickly we can uproot our touch with nature in exchange for convenience and modernity.
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