wilson hurst - artist statement


The drive to create is part of an eternal living spirit which resides instinctively in the artist. This inherent motivation sensitizes the self to circumstances and information relating to that motive. Thus a photographer will perceive visual sensation as more ponderous than other stimuli. When capturing imagery, selecting from the many available contingencies constitutes adaptation to the intrinsic need to visually create. From my perspective, the entire universe is a support system providing an abundance of raw material. My desire is to select quintessence light patterns and fashion them into worthy visual statements, exploring the fundamental issues of what, how, and why anything exists.


From a formalistic and procedural perspective, my goal is to develop a sensibility and skill set that facilitates effective photographic interpretations under any environmental condition. An ongoing motivation is to constantly push the envelope of my understanding and to add something new to the visual lexicon. Extracting satisfaction from operating simultaneously across a multiplicity of conceptual frontiers, my work primarily addresses the question of what constitutes the nature of reality.


Formal aspects which drive my efforts involve controlling art elements to support art principles in a visual organization that propagates prolonged observation. I attempt to structure visual elements in ways that encourage viewers to engage in an artistic exchange. The eye is deliberately and naturally drawn toward the point of interest so that the viewer does not notice the composition. Seeing is like stepping into the picture rather than looking at it.


My conceptual interest is energy interacting with matter in space over time. Understanding these fundamental modalities and their relationships, as well as being aware of our interface boundaries in dealing with external existence, are the cognitive components in my work. The combination of written language with visual images is designed to broaden and deepen the meaning communicated by their association. This kindles many concurrent visual projects.


From a technical perspective, an interest in combining historical imaging expertise with the most recent cutting edge technologies runs through my visual efforts. In this vein multiple paths are navigated. One good example is the “Irontone” printing process developed to produce direct digital cyanotypes. For several years lens design has been pursued, transforming optical aberrations into creative and aesthetic virtues. Recently, I have been working with neutral density filters placed over vintage manual focus lenses while walking with an open shutter to capture light over time as a function of space. Incorporating elements of performance art, this dynamic technique provides yet another interpretation of appearance. Another example of mixing old and new technology into an appealing union is lensless photography, where a variety of optics are mounted in a rotating turret on my full-frame digital camera. Finally, I am exploring the capture of radiation beyond the visible spectrum.


Discriminating at a human sensory level, the exterior is defined visually only by emitted or reflected radiation energy. Characterized by careful evaluation and judgment, aesthetic opportunities exist in even the most mundane external objects. Photography spreads radiation response over time giving rise to internal pleasure by engaging capacities of reflective contemplation partially embodied in the physical reaction.  Calmly accepting existence does not render it any less mysterious.


At its core, my work raises the ancient metaphysical “problem of universals,” a conundrum involving thought, knowledge, and reality. Because energy and matter are in continuous motion in space over time, nothing ever remains constant from moment to moment. Thus any acquired knowledge we harbor based on observation is obsolete before obtained. But our intellect can contemplate concepts, ideas as forms, which can remain stable. These concepts can represent abstract universal characteristics, properties, behaviors or relations that can be predictive of the individual or particular. Further we can establish classifications of individuals or particulars regarded as sharing or participating in certain universals.  Plato postulated a distinction between the realm of the senses and the realm of the intellect. One can only have opinions about perceptions, but one can have knowledge about universals. Therefore, the intelligible world is the actual world while the sensible world is only provisionally real, like shadows in a cave. Operating under this premise, reality is what you think it is.


Reading and research support the framework sustaining my curiosity.  Always searching for knowledge, photography is used as a means for a systematic investigation of my environment. Such exploration augments my understanding of the nature and properties of the external world as interpreted by my internal cognition. This activity is empirical research involving the collection of new data. But field research is much more productive when informed by extensive secondary research, which involves broadly and deeply searching the storehouse of recorded human knowledge. One of the wonderful characteristics of photography is that everything learned is applicable.  My artistic strengths include a general high-energy level, a passion for image making, a long term commitment, and inventiveness. These attributes are balanced by unavoidable time constraints and limitations imposed by the biological sensory system.


Ultimately my desire is to continuously expand my personal boundaries to better comprehend myself, the world, and the universe.