Zone of Transformation: Nature in the High Desert

These images are derived from specific places and natural forms around Joshua Tree, California. They operate in a liminal environment where identity can be difficult to ascribe, in the transition zone between depiction and abstraction.

The camera transforms the actual scene into a flat composition—this is the first level of abstraction. My process takes this further by reversing positive and negative tones and altering color. By adjusting color in a loose manner, in effect using both additive and subtractive color combinations, I am able to interpret otherwise unseen aspects of the picture. I avoid the display of any particular technique by working softly, without adding things that would alter the forms and/or be seen as mine. I use the medium in a subtle way, understanding the possibilities of digital technology but using it moderately to preserve the original natural forms.

Zone of Transformation follows an earlier series (Nothing, in the World) developed over time by living with imagery I was consistently drawn to. It was not preconceived. I made photographs, studied them, made more. Simultaneously, I began to compare them and to alter the color values. This move toward abstraction came directly from the imagery itself.

This process causes a reduction of recognition but not of complexity. Working on the edge of ambiguity can get closer to the essence of that pictured but, more importantly, to the viewing experience. This work is beyond recording information. It concerns personal experience, below the surface, of a spiritually motivated response to the world.

By relinquishing habits of thought about nature the viewer can make space to feel connected with the world in a new way. If one can refrain from naming a visible form (as “wood” or “granite”), it can become a window into something larger.

I look to the natural world for inspiration as an alternative to our culture’s pervasive imagery of fashion, design, and advertising. My images bring to mind deep time by contemplating the life of rocks, trees, water, etc. I present the scene as a small part of the cosmos. It may seem confusing but chaos is, after all, natural order.

. . . nature . . . delights in muddle and mystery . . .
—Virginia Woolf, Orlando


Edition limited to 15 prints each: 8 @ 24 x 20 inches (61 x 51 cm); + 7 @ 34 x 24 inches (86 x 61 cm); + 2 AP.
Prints made by the photographer on 100% rag papers.
This series was made in 2015 at the Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residency.


Zone of Transformation is available as a limited edition offset book. Click here for info.

Also, a print-on-demand book is available from at: