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2020 Winners

Courtesy of David Gardner

David Gardner

David lives part-time in San Francisco and part-time in a 26 ft. Lazy Daze motorhome, christened Carpe Diem, pursuing his photographic interests across the continent. He is largely self-taught, but considers his longtime friendship with fine art photographer Stephen Johnson, and the likes of Richard Misrach and Edward Burtynsky to be the basis of his photographic inspiration and proficiency. David studied graphic arts and multimedia design at San Francisco State University, and attends classes and lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute as time permits. His photographs have been exhibited across the country and internationally

Professional: Winning Entry: Into the Anthropocene

Into the Anthropocene

I investigate places throughout the Western United States where the natural ecosystem has been altered or destroyed to provide for our burgeoning populations. In the Palouse grasslands - now wheat fields - of eastern Washington, a mono-crop landscape terraformed through agricultural commerce creates a sense of bucolic perfection while disguising the underlying impact of single crop planting. Old and new energy extraction techniques are compared using images from the largest thermal solar plant on earth at Ivanpah in California, and the Cholla coal burning power plant near Winslow, AZ. Finally, the “bathtub ring” high water mark - which will never again be attained - at Lake Mead in Arizona illustrates how the demand for water has changed the landscape. In each location, I was simultaneously dazzled and disturbed by the scope of these transformations - many occurring in my lifetime. What was revealed I found compelling - strangely alien but completely human. By allowing human intervention to speak over the landscape itself in my images, I imagine a new landscape, more of its Age, that expresses dilemmas faced when considering exploitation or preservation. 

COVID-19 Reflections...

I was having a little trouble imagining a picture that would best describe my experience sheltering in place. After all, officially, I am in the 65+ risk group that says I must stay inside as much as possible. For my health, I wanted to observe that recommendation. I only go out when I must. So the experience for me has been one of seclusion. While sitting in my home, I noticed that where we had strung our face masks to air out, seemed to effectively convey an experience of separation from the outside world.

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