Photographer Adam Satushek has a knack for finding the weird ways humans and nature coexist. The former SOIL art collective member’s pictures make both man-made structures and Mother Nature’s creations seem simultaneously out of place, whether it’s a tree that looks like it’s trying to run from an aggressive telephone pole or a paved higheway appearing in the middle of a sandy beach. The Washington native moved to Colorado two years ago, but his shutter finger has kept right on clicking. His latest show, afield, opens today and is on display at Platform Gallery through February 9.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with Satushek about stumbling onto shoot locations, photographic irony, and his problems with the sun.
What the unifying element of these photos?
For me, it’s kind of trying to recognize how humans seem separate from the natural world because of our impact. We’re such a large numbered species that we really are of nature and that we can’t be thought of as separate from it, because when we do it creates an antagonistic relationship between the natural world and us. And I think that’s not helpful. For me, it’s just looking at how we shape the landscape. And while things may look unnatural, it is the world we live in and should be thought of that way.
What’s your process in finding the unusual juxtapositions that appear in your photos?
A lot of it is just exploring. A lot of my finds happen when I’m on vacation. There’s a piece from Hawaii, there are a couple pieces from driving on the highways in between Colorado and Seattle, there’s a piece from Florida. I’m just out. I find if I got out intentionally to try to find things to shoot, I’m less successful than if I’m already somewhere, doing something else, and discover these things.
With your previous shows, art critics have often noted the sense of irony in your photographs. Do you feel they’re ironic, or are there other subtexts at work?
Yeah, I definitely think with previous shows there was more what you would call “irony,” like odd juxtapositions. This particular show is a little more toned back in that regard; things are a little more subtle. … I do find humor in a lot of these, even in this current show.
Dark in what sense?
Well, tones, for one thing. There are no blue skies. There’s more of a darker feeling to the images.
Beyond photography, what other professions would you want to persue?
I currently do contract work for Microsoft here in Boulder, working on their big maps—global ortho imagery. I always come back to imagery-related stuff. I’ve started the master’s program here in environmental science. With my master’s, I hope to gain expertise in GIS—geographic information systems. It’s a way of mapping imagery and spatial data with other information. It’s a somewhat visual method of displaying information.
How did living in Seattle influence your art?
I grew up in Washington—Bellingham and then Seattle—so it just seems natural that I’m drawn to more overcast skies. I tend not to shoot when it’s sunny out, just because you have harsher shadows and that can distract from the subject matter in a lot of cases. I struggle with that in Colorado because it’s sunny something like 350 days a year here.
Jan 3–Feb 9, Platform Gallery