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NATIVES:ambrotype portraits from the digital frontier

eugenia martini aion dr steampunk
We live in a time where more people are using the digital frontier to entertain, escape and connect.  It used to be that the ambrotypist would travel the frontier in their wagons and photograph those living on the fringes of civilization.  Nearly 160 years later, I travel the new frontier of online communities, photographing those paving the way. While the inhabitants of these non-physical communities and games do not go there physically, they are often able to manipulate and control their online incarnation: creating an abject presence of themselves.  This project creates both a tangibility and history to the 'lives' of these inhabitants who, by design, do not know or have either.  The ambrotype images make a tangible manifestation of the intangible persona while simultaneously showing the death of that moment.

Implements of Terror


Post tragedy we are forced to examine that which may provide both possibility and opportunity of threat. In doing so, we find both. Such an examination, though ultimately incurred for our protection, personalizes our national fear of further terrorist attacks. Working with the Orlando International Airport, in October 2001, I photographed on scene with a 4x5 camera, items not making it past the security checkpoints where passengers were given the option not to get on the plane with the item or to “throw it away” by giving it Security.

First developed in the late 18th century, panorama paintings captured 360° views of landscapes and historical scenes and represented a new pictorial expression. Individuals for the first time gripped with a fever to experience the horizon and geared towards seeing without obstruction in every direction arousing a sense of hope, allowing the bourgeoisie to see things from a new angle and to infuse the horizon with the promise that Paradise was just beyond sight. Whether we choose to see it or not, every landscape has its own unique texture, rhythm and scenery.  Views is an exploration of panoramic scenes, vistas and the inherent magic of each place, it is about history, memory, longing and an appreciation for the space that surrounds us. The editions range in size from 4 ft to 10 feet in length.


Saga is a site specific installation that explores three idealized visual metaphors created photographically for the family itself: a state where ties are rooted in property, spiritual assembly based on shared values and morals, and a bond of feeling that stems from instinct and passion. By examining this set of visual rules that shape our experience and memory we visualize the point where public and private, social and psychological structures collapse within one another. 

Most Americans photograph both the historical and legendary events in their lives.  Images are then grouped together to direct further reflection and project a prosperous, fertile, well-adjusted family image.  I have always been fascinated with family image shrines.  Being adopted I do not have a family history and find myself studying each one I encounter (…perhaps looking for a family resemblance?).

Identifying recurring themes, various iconic groupings and recognizing the intimacy context of each, I have created an idealized family history, complete with skeletons and ‘that which we do not speak about.  Saga is a site-specific installation revolving around the visual family metaphor, constructed family myth and the photographic trophy as comodification of experience, culture and family.


This project was created for William Ewing's book "About Face" which is currently at the publisher. This is an examination of a major media source that helps build and shape women’s faces. Removing the image allows us to explore the framework and structure of contemporary beauty.

Modeling Portfolio

This project is a deconstruction of the fashion image by examining the formulaic process of beauty definition.  This project addresses the theories behind the male gaze with how men look at women, how women look at themselves and other women, and the effects surrounding this. It is often identified that the action of possessing a gaze as being intrinsically male and thus the action of being gazed upon female, thus creating a position of power over the woman.  By examining the depictions of women in advertising and the idea of gendered power relationships within the media we can characterize whom is looking and thus display the relationship between the two positions.

Latent Images

The Images in this project exist on unprocessed rolls of film.  First and foremost the viewer is asked to believe that these images exist.  Film type and the title given to each canister of film are the only clues to the images inside.  The tension in this project exists in the desire to process the film to see if the images exist or to maintain the integrity of the art piece and not process the film and allow the mind to fill in the images. There are currently four in this series: Spring Break, A Park Affair, House Watching and Little Angels.

Scenic Swiss Views

The Images in this project exist on unprocessed rolls of film.  First and foremost the viewer is asked to believe that these images exist.  Film type and the title given to each canister of film are the only clues to the images inside.  The tension in this project exists in the desire to process the film to see if the images exist or to maintain the integrity of the art piece and not process the film and allow the mind to fill in the images.

Landscaping: Joshua Tree, CA


Landscaping: Florida

When we take the time to look around us, what is it we see?   Do we take in that which is laid before us or, not unlike the landscape developer, do we see what could be, the possibilities?   We take for granted the expansive spaces and undeveloped areas of our country.   Political, Environmental and Industry leaders financially harvest these areas often with little regard for the wildlife and ecosystems that are displaced or destroyed as a result of this 'progress'. Landscaping explores development and natural spaces and the contradiction of 'advancement' that results.

The Story

No event in history has had the media coverage as the 9.11 terrorist attacks.  Media images, sound bytes and digital video clips are mere isolated fragments pieced together for ‘us’ constructing a historical narrative thus shaping collective memory of the events and defining our history.

As participant and witness, The Story defines the times thus writing the past.  In true documentary/journalistic form, it is often that which is implicit in images that make them so poignant rather than that which is explicit.  As with the scary film we find ourselves most afraid of that we cannot define and that which we cannot see.

9.11 after Sarah Charlesworth

Editorial decisions are paramount in establishing the official record of the events in New York City September 11, 2001.  Fragments are pieced together to construct a definitive historical narrative, thus shaping our collective memory of the event.  The 9.11 series creates a simple displacement—the newspaper images and graphics re-presented in a new context—the replacement of written texts by white space and the replacement of images by text images, so as to emphasize the visual rhetoric of this imagery.

Keeping in scale of newspapers, both the photographs and the typography are isolated in syncopated rhythms against white grounds.  The result is a demonstration of the varying emphasis that the media accords to specific news events and of the way that emphasis can shape the opinion of the viewer/reader.

See America
SEE AMERICA is a virtual road trip that explores the travel postcard, the trip scrapbook, the visual documentation of the journey and then resulting comodification of Americana for personal gain and perceived social status.  29 destinations across America were selected and plotted on a map. Mileage was calculated between the different points to determine distance and amount of time to be spent in each location.  50 postcards were created and hand printed for each of the 29 locations.  Although these postcards have no pictures on them they are photographic; each has been printed in a darkroom using conventional photographic technology.   50 people were selected, some of whom I know and some of whom I have never met, to receive the entire series of 29 cards.  Each of the postcards has the same personalized hand written message and is hand addressed to each person on the list. To follow the path of the trip, the cards are assembled and mailed in an envelope, to the postmaster at each destination, who then processes the individual cards. 

Landscape Color Assessment


Color plays a significant role in the epistemological, personal and social lives of human beings.  The colors of spaces, their components and the interrelationship between the different parts contribute to our attitudes and appreciation of the natural world.  The landscape is the physical reality that engulfs us its tangible elements give shape and diversity to our surroundings, however the landscape is also the environment perceived.

The Landscape Color Assessment Project is an examination and reflection on the picturesque, the photographic and visual quality (or beauty), as it pertains to the natural landscape. Landscape Assessment facilitates systematic analysis, description and classification of the landscape.  It involves identification of features, combinations of elements and colors that contribute to the character of the landscape, thereby enabling the special character and qualities of an area to be understood. Once identified, this information allows consideration of appropriate recommendations for its future conservation and management.

Cyanotype Botanicals

In the spirit of Anna Atkins I have created 9"x7" cyanotypes of some of the plants growing natively around the yards of some of the places I have lived.   This is an ongoing series that currently has 4 chapers...NY, MO, MI and UT.

Text Images

Text as photograph raises questions about the human thought process, the categorization of data, visual language processing and our individual cultural/social conditioning.

Text Grid

Color Fields

Crime Series

Dot to Dot

Museum Spaces

Polaroid Manipulations