Photographer Allen Bryan: For most of my adult life I took pictures: It was a way of collecting things that stopped me in my tracks. I accumulated file drawers full of images that have long since begun to fade away. Then in 1988 I was diagnosed with a genetic eye disease: Faced with the progressive tunneling of my vision, as well as distortion of color perception and night blindness, I went to the Southwest to experience its vast panoramas before my visual field was drastically narrowed. The trip awakened my interest in photographing landscapes, and following that new road, I discovered that for me, searching for the right place with the right light was almost as good as finding it.
In the series Comforts of Home, the panoramic format invites us into some precarious places and unsettling living situations, perhaps to discover something of the lives of the phantom occupants. Planes and perspective conflict and contradict. Exteriors intrude into interiors through windows and doors left carelessly ajar. What people there are, are mere ghostly blurs or fragmented presences at the picture’s edge. Wandering these unstable environments, hoping to uncover their stories, we are aware of time as an active element.
Comforts of Home came about as I searched in recent years for connections between my early, quickly-taken street images and the slower, contemplative landscape work that followed. I realized I could go beyond merely taking photographs as a way of editing and refining my vision of the world. In Comforts of Home, using digital tools I am able to re-examine and reorganize my photographic life, creating pictures that question comfortable reality. The places in these pictures are figments constructed from slide and digital images, varied light sources and lenses, altered perspectives and depth of field. These are pictures of a world that isn’t as real as it looks at first glance, that isn’t quite the world we see around us. And perhaps not incidentally, the working process of combining many images into one has seemed to lead naturally into a panoramic format — wider than I can see.
Pictures from the series have been exhibited at: JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC; Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Houston Center for Photography; Blue Sky Gallery/Oregon Ctr. For Photographic Arts, Portland OR; Hyde Collection, Glens Falls NY; The Light Factory, Charlotte NC; Photo Resource Center, Boston; Center for Photography at Woodstock; Kleinert/James Gallery, Woodstock NY; Albany Institute of History & Art; Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, New Paltz NY; Gallery 1401, Philadelphia; The Print Center, Philadelphia; Art Museum at SUNY Albany NY.
Collections include: Portland Art Museum (OR); The Center for Photography at Woodstock/Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art; Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital; Marist College Theater Building; MacDonald’s.
To contact Allen and to view more of his work, visit his website here.