2020 was a year of much knowledge, but for Thomas Jackson ((previously) was the most profound “proof of the adage that creativity thrives under constraints”. Known for hanging swarms of everyday objects on the rocky shores of the Isle of Man or desert areas opposite the southwestern United StatesThe photographer shifted his practice as the barriers expanded and limited his ability to travel beyond nearby landscapes.
The resulting series reflects these limitations and focuses on a single location and adaptable material: swaths of brightly colored nylon float over the beaches and along the California coast, creating compositions that harmonize the natural surroundings with the bright, manufactured materials. “I chose tulle because of its variability. Depending on how it is arranged and how the wind catches it, it can turn from a solid to a liquid, from fire to billowing smoke,” says Jackson.
The photos were taken on 4 × 5 film with little to no editing and convey a pared-down approach. Instead of hiring people to help install the sculptural objects in exact positions, Jackson used driftwood to support the light textiles and the wind to fill the fabric with movement. He explains:
On every shoot, the offshore breeze from Northern California was my collaborator, the force that transformed my installations from inanimate material to living beings. It’s been tumultuous while working together – of the twenty or so pieces I built and photographed last year, thirteen were failures – but along the way, I learned a thing or two about the importance of being on the good side of nature to stay. If I built parts that obstructed or defied the wind in any way, I would go home unhappy, but if my constructions respected and responded to the wind, interesting things would happen!
Jackson shares a wide range of his work, which mimics the amorphous, self-organizing patterns of birds, insects, and other animals, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and footage of his process Instagram.
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