Doug Eng: Streaming South
I had the pleasure of seeing Doug Eng’s stellar prints from his series, Streaming South, at Photolucida this past April. The project is the result of a curiosity about what was beyond the bridges and trails crossing the numerous waterways in his region of Florida. He committed to a yearlong study experiencing and photographing the subtle Florida seasonal changes in an environment not commonly visited. Sites include Durbin, Julington, Six Mile, Deep, McCullough, Thomas, McGirts, and Lofton creeks. He has two exhibitions of this work: “Streaming South: Illuminations from a journey home” at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Wilson Art Center, South Campus through September 16th (catalog here) and “Streaming South” will be one of 6 Slow Exposures Pop-up Tour sites curated by Richard McCabe that runs from September 18-20th, 2015.
A Jacksonville FL native and resident, Doug Eng is a fine art photographer and installation artist whose specialties are urban and natural landscapes. An engineer by education and trade, Eng is pursuing a lifelong interest in the visual arts and has established a reputation for unique imagery and meaningful public projects.
Eng pursued careers as a Professional Engineer in the power industry, a software programmer, and a small business owner. His education includes degrees in Structural Engineering at Cornell University and an MBA from the University of North Florida. Eng’s studio is located in the CoRK Arts District in the Riverside area of Jacksonville where his large format printing and CNC router equipment is usually running.
“Streaming South: Illuminations from a journey home”
at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Wilson Art Center
“My visual fascination with my surroundings, whether built or natural, comes from many years of trying to understand why things are what they are. An engineering discipline seeks to explain and rationalize the world, and to develop solutions to problems. My curiosity about forms, structures, patterns, rhythms, and textures, is a natural outgrowth of the need to find order in all things. But it is chaotic randomness that creates uniqueness and vitality. Our world is both simple and complex, structured and random, free and bound…all in a simultaneous expression of what IS. This is my realization through my art and these are the subjects of my investigations.”
Last spring, paddling a kayak became the first steps of my journey home. My birthplace and residence is Jacksonville, FL, on the St. Johns River, a 310 mile artery dotted with spring fed creeks. I often photographed a glimpse of a creek from a bridge or trail and always wondered what lay beyond what I saw.
“Streaming South” started as a desire to produce a series of intimate landscapes of individual creeks, depicting remote places in the style of early 19th century landscape painters who visited Florida and found an unspoiled paradise. Florida has changed dramatically since those times but I knew that a version of the “real” Florida may lay deep within these creeks and I wanted to find out.
Over the course of one year, I experienced the seasonal characteristics of the landscape in 33 visits to 12 creeks. I created thousands of images and started a blog, streamingsouth.com, to record each outing with comments and additional writings.
Once I began my explorations, my outward excitement about what I was seeing shifted to a personal introspection concerned with ethics, morality, respect, care, and gratitude. Not only was I given a gift of incredible beauty, peace, and solitude, but I was exposed to neglect, disrespect, and violations that stirred deep emotions. I always appreciated where I lived but never had an attachment to anything specific. I never cried when I saw trees being cut or became resentful of a dock or bulkhead on a riverbank. I never laughed at otters eyeing my passage or spent time collecting discarded bottles lodged in the roots of trees. I never witnessed the awe in a perfect reflection of over-arching trees forming a cathedral in the middle of a stream. Now things are different, I have changed.
When photographing the “environment” you make choices. Do you focus on beauty or despair or exactly what exists? It’s an easy decision for me. Beauty and peace connected me to my home. Not the plastic bottles, beer cans, old tires, and keep out signs. I believe that my advocacy for attention to these rare places must appeal to what is positive and good about our home. First connection, then care. That’s how it worked for me.
As a result of this project, I have developed a special connection to my Home. Connection is about participation, hands on experience, and being present. You must step out your door and cross the line. To really care about a place, to cherish it for what it does to our hearts and souls, to really connect with all that it is, creates the cognizance necessary for responsible, actionable stewardship. These are only pictures, but they represent in a very real way what is here and now and beautiful about our earth and where we live. This work is my advocacy. I am grateful for finding a glimmer of enlightenment through photography for myself and to share with others. The journey continues.–Doug Eng August, 2015
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