Things Boulders Ate mixes typologies of parking lot boulders and objects of wonder from my studio. One typology studies the use of boulders as subtle signifiers for Nature as well as physical barriers for automobiles. A second catalogues a random selection of objects from my personal wunderkammer. Mixed into the two sequences are seemingly unrelated images. These outliers disrupt the pattern and rhythm of the book while suggesting connections between disparities. Mingled together, the typologies and outliers fuse into a singular, but disjointed, archive of weight, wonder and display.
Things Boulders Ate was published by Mystery Spot Books in December 2014. The softcover, saddle stitch book is 40 pages and consists of 24 color images.It was designed by Chad Rutter. You can purchase your copy here.
Black Holes & Blind Spots
2010 - ongoing
archival pigment prints, various dimensions
Black Holes and Blind Spots (2010-ongoing) is inspired by American Transcendentalism. Rather than escaping to a utopic wilderness refuge as one might expect, Happel Christian photographs residential suburban landscapes to explore whether it is possible to have spiritual experiences in such ordinary, modern surroundings. He then digitally alters the images with black spots. These spots work metaphorically for Happel Christian to pull the viewer into the images, like a black hole. The spots obstruct the viewer’s vision by concealing the focal points of the images. This strategy serves to constantly remind the viewer of the constructed nature of photography, rather than allowing the viewer to become absorbed in contemplation of the image. Similarly, just as photographs are representations of the world, suburban residential landscapes are constructed and tamed versions of nature.
~ Curatorial Staff, Midwest Photographer’s Project, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
"Ground truth" is information gained by a meteorologist about an extreme weather event from an eyewitness in close proximity to the actual event. The meteorologist learns the ground truth of a situation while viewing radar generated graphics of the event on a computer screen. The eyewitness account can confirm, discredit or complicate the digital information, but action, such as issuing a tornado warning, is rarely taken without a ground truth assessment. Within this specific social interaction between meteorologist and eyewitness is a metaphor about human perceptions of and experiences in the natural world - empiricism persists within the realm of digital representation.
2010, archival pigment print of a bundle of approximately 60 different pictures of the same redbud tree given to my parents by a neighbor to be planted as a celebration of my birth in 1977, 18" x 15"
2010, archival pigment print, 20" x 25"
2010, archival pigment print, 20" x 24"
2010, archival pigment prints, each 18" x 20"
2013, eyeglasses made with President Woodrow Wilson's prescription; President Wilson signed the Organic Act in 1916 which created the National Park Service. His sharp vision to establish a body of people to care for natural space was visionary. Photograph courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts