“There’s a renewed interest in hands-on types of work,” Sande-Friedman says, citing Klea McKenna’s photogram series Rain Studies, the chemigram-based work of Amanda Means, and the traveling camera obscura of John Chiara. “When we increasingly use the computer to mediate between ourselves and the natural world, there’s more desire to engage with it directly. These artists are interested in really getting inside nature—both in organic imagery and working with nature as an idea.”
Brandt’s work on Lakes and Reservoirs extended in part from experiments with salted-paper printing, but he says chemistry was more a road to an idea than the idea itself. He was also inspired by a popular story that the British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner had himself strapped to the mast of a boat in order to experience the full force of a gale before painting it. “It’s having a fuller understanding of nature when working with it,” Brandt says. Watching the way that lake water degraded print emulsions gave him a broader sense of the process of natural erosion.