Brownfields

by Jason Reed

Our personal and collective understanding of the natural world is seldom about the land by itself, but more often about the complex, tenuous relationship that we (humans) hold with nature. There is a flux of dominance that occurs between the natural world and human nature, a continuous fight that we initiate in our attempts to maintain superiority. But as our societal attention shifts, as it commonly does, we neglect, abandon, and eventually forget. We leave behind ruins that stand quietly as poignant memorials of the natural world moving on with little thought to our presence.

In this series, Brownfields, I am photographing spaces and places that hold a deep residual sense of the human past within the abandoned, natural present. Yet these specific brownfield sites exist not just as picturesque markers of the natural reclaiming the human over time. Because of their status as being hazardously polluted and unfit for redevelopment, they also exist as markers of American social failure. The sites live as open and contaminated wounds on the land, built up through a cumulative process of both ignorant and apathetic utility.

This series works to uncover the overlooked, allowing the left behind objects to become active, powerful mediators of our relationship to the land and the natural world. The photographs are a means of engaging in wonder at the decisions that have been made in the past, leading us to question our present and future. Essentially, the Brownfields photographs function as a penetrating response to these places and moments that result from the intricate, and often problematic duality, present between human and nature.

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