Roberley Bell  
 
       

Visible From the Corner of My Eye

2012
Digital printing

Visible from the corner of my eye reflects my quest for new ways of looking at nature, a difficult search in the ever-expanding urban environment of Istanbul. Wandering the labyrinth-like network of city streets and journeying in and out of the closely nestled warrens of diverse ethnic neighborhoods. With camera in hand, I compiled a visual record of my walks, measuring my daily steps and encounters in an outpouring of snapshots. At every turn, I was drawn to the slightest remnant of natural phenomenon that I came across, in particular the lone tree. This is not surprising given the thematic impulse that has long directed my artwork—the fragility of the natural world amid the ever-widening spread of human-made environments. Whether spindly, manicured or severed, the pictured tree in these s photographs hinted at incongruous stories of natural survival in a burgeoning city of buildings and populations, both native and foreign.

Side-by-side, the new and old pictures made fitful but resonant companions. Where my color photographs isolated all but a single tree on a sidewalk or street the vernacular black and white images framed individual portraits, couples and family outings in, for the most part, tree-canopied landscapes. The stark contrast of city and country, present and past, time and space, unpopulated and populated views visually oscillate across the extended sequence of images. While traversing the streets and neighborhoods of Istanbul, I saw nature at once tortured and sheltered. In the found vintage photographs, however, I found nature as a welcome respite far removed from the densely crowded city. The resulting project Visible From the Corner of My Eye, expresses the culture clash of images, in which the tree is omnipresent as a stand-in for all things natural, evokes the my continuing investigation of the unsettling relationship between the natural world and the man-made.

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       © 2016 Roberley Bell