Standing in the dusty airfield at Madras Municipal Airport, just off U.S. Hwy 26 in Oregon, in the midst of thousands of umbraphiles, many of whom were first-timers like ourselves, we looked up as the moon, previously invisible, suddenly became its inverse, an arcing silhouette. Rather than a shiny orb in the night sky that reflects the sun’s light, with the flip of a perceptual light switch, it suddenly became a dark shadow that voraciously bit into the edge of the radiating orb. In under an hour, its shadowy mask completely obliterated the sun’s light, producing a reverse framing effect. Yet, not to be overtaken without a fight, seconds before totality, the sun appeared to shoot out a torrent of energy, a photonic last gasp, which formed into a gigantic burst bubble (commonly referred to as “the diamond ring”), and sent long spikes of luminescence outward into the now darkened sky. Following quickly, and only perceptible for what seemed a second, were “Bailey’s beads” (phenomena reported caused by light ricocheting off and through craters on the moon). Totality enveloped everyone in a weird light; sunlight was evident but simultaneously not and the temperature radically fell. Looking at the total solar eclipse, Rebecca Solnit’s comments resonated: “Everything earthly depends on the sky” and that moon-gazing (or in this case, eclipse-gazing) “is the nicest kind of globalization.”
Since experiencing totality, the notion of grounding ourselves in place has begun to resonate even more in our work. While our eclipse shots document the action of looking up, they also show an ephemeral, rapidly changing event — being in a specific place and at a particular time in order to acknowledge the rotation of our planet and its relationship to other celestial bodies. The symbol of a circle, which is very much evident in our various series of macro- and micro- photography, has become even more significant, as evidenced in our new and evolving series “Ecological Drift” (working title). In this new series, we return to our local waterways and consider endangered estuaries where invasive plant species such as narrow leaf cattail (typha angustifolia) and brassbuttons (brass cotula coronopifolia) are increasingly undermining the integrity of our local wetlands and important brackish water systems.
A continuing archive captured through the lens of an iPhone 6, the series began as we were studying how eyes physically function and biologically perform. Specifically, we considered how images of eyes have circulated within our culture. Upon learning about an 18th century craze in which family members and secret lovers exchanged miniature paintings of eyes, we began to think about how images of them are reposted and retweeted within social media today. While eyes are still used as symbolic metaphors for surveillance, biometric-scanning software has turned eyes into identifiable patterns that liken an individual's eyes to fingerprints. Yet, despite these new scientific "advancements," eyes continue to engender a deep connection between lookers. In looking into an other’s eye (shut or open / stranger or lover / old or young / similar or dissimilar), we empathize with that person. To produce iPhone Eyes, we cropped each shot and printed the image onto a metal surface that is reminiscent of the earliest photographic processes, the daguerreotype.