Continuing through September 9, 2011
The Wine Country north of San Francisco boasts beautiful scenery; it’s a favorite destination for camera-toting tourists as well as oenophiles. Lewis deSoto’s “Appellation” series of panoramic color photographs nicely captures the low mountains, rolling hills, oak trees and clear sunlight of the area. Art historical references pop up in the forests of marching grape stakes, miniature versions of Walter de Maria’s “Lightning Field;” the fabric fences are reminiscent of Christo”s “Running Fence,” which once bestrode Sonoma and Marin Counties.
Panoramic photography used to require motorized cameras mounted on tripods with special film, or the tedious splicing of photo mosaics. Nowadays, anyone with a decent digital camera can easily Photoshop together such views. DeSoto takes the new digital capabilities to a higher level, creating images up to nine feet long composed of dozens to hundreds of small photographs. Years ago, David Hockney made photo collages that emphasized the disjunctions between his overlapping images. DeSoto seamlessly combines his camera-glimpses into miniature diorama views that no set of human eyes could take in at once. His scenic vistas with their gentle curves and lack of dramatic incident present human activity in balance with nature, sustainable if not quite idyllic. It’s a nice change from photographs cataloguing our exploitation, however photogenic, of the natural world.