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New Work – Thomas Jackson: Emergent Behavior


New Work Thomas Jackson: Emergent Behavior Thomas Jackson's Emergent Behavior is inspired by the instinctual self-organizing systems found in termite mounds, schools of fish, or flocks of birds. Colorful and animated, Jackson views images in the Emergent Behavior series as an 'experiment in juxtaposition,' photographing everyday mass-produced consumer goods against the backdrop of a pristine and natural landscape.
Straws no. 4, Mono Lake, California, 2015 – © Thomas Jackson

Thomas Jackson's Emergent Behavior is inspired by the instinctual self-organizing systems found in termite mounds, schools of fish, or flocks of birds. Colorful and animated, Jackson views images in the Emergent Behavior series as an 'experiment in juxtaposition,' photographing everyday mass-produced consumer goods against the backdrop of a pristine and natural landscape. Sublime in character, the images in Emergent Behavior produce equal parts wonder and worry as we consider the intention and agency of these commodities gathering in uninhabited areas. Originally introduced to the Photographer's Showcase last May with a corresponding gallery exhibition, photo-eye is excited to introduce six new images in the Emergent Behavior series, and asked Jackson for some insight about how these images are constructed as well as the intention behind the new photographs.

Hula Hoops no. 2, Montara California, 2016 – © Thomas Jackson

"I see the creation of my images as a game. And like any other game, there are rules. Given a predetermined location and whatever manufactured material I’ve chosen to work with, I have from dawn to sundown to construct, photograph and dismantle an installation. In the process I try to determine the material’s personality and how it should interact with its environment, all while contending with the idiosyncrasies of the landscape and the changing weather conditions. It’s a lot of fun, as long as a rogue wave or a gust of wind doesn’t destroy it all before I click the shutter. (Remarkably, this has only happened to me once.)

Safety Fence no. 1, Carrizo Plain, California, 2016 – © Thomas Jackson

Hula Hoops no. 1, Lee Vining, California, 2015
© Thomas Jackson
As with the previous works in the Emergent Behavior series, the ideal I’m after with this group of images is equilibrium between opposites. But here I’ve tried to push into new territory, refining the way I use materials and how I pair them with environments. Safety Fence no. 1, for example, was conceived with California’s El Niño-induced wildflower explosion specifically in mind. I wanted to find a place where the flower’s themselves could determine the installation’s shape. With the two hula hoops images, Hula Hoops no. 1 and Hula Hoops no. 2, I wanted see how identical materials would react when introduced to opposing environments — one a complex landscape of mountains and trees, the other a minimal, beachside cliff.

Take Out Containers no. 1, Montara, California, 2016 – © Thomas Jackson

Take Out Containers no. 1 is my first attempt at harnessing the sun directly. In the past I’ve always tried to keep the sun at my back where it can serve as a soft, off-camera light source, but this time I wanted it to radiate directly into the installation, bouncing and diffusing through the plastic containers’ angles and facets. The morning of the shoot, I used an astronomy app on my iPhone to determine where the sun would be 9 hours later and built my sculpture accordingly. The original idea behind this image was to undermine the cliché of a sunset at the beach, but I like to think that in the process I referenced J.M.W. Turner, whose work is so characterized by the radiant, glowing diffusion of pre-dusk sunlight."
—Thomas Jackson

Straws no. 3, San Francisco, California, 2015
© Thomas Jackson
Prints from the Emergent Behavior series are produced with archival pigment in small editions. Print size, edition size, and price may vary between images. 

For more information about Emergent Behavior and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly at 505-988-5152 x 121 or anne@photoeye.com.

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