San Francisco photographer, Klea McKenna, creates work that is rooted in the natural world: the effects, the celebration, and the examination of that world. Her investigations result in new ways of looking at photography, and at nature. She recently had an exhibition at the Rayko Photo Center of her project, Slow Burn, and was selected to receive the 3rd Hey, Hot Shot! Curator’s Choice Award for the same work by Lesley A. Martin, publisher of Aperture’s books program. Nymphoto also has an interesting conversation with Klea here.
After growing up in northern California and Hawaii, Klea studied photography at UCLA, UCSC, Florence Art Institute and recently received an MFA from the California College of the Arts where she is currently an instructor.
My relationship to the natural landscape lies somewhere between adoration and suspicion. This ambivalence has fueled each of my recent projects. I am interested in human perceptions of and representations of nature, and photography’s ability to both confirm and disarm those perceptions. Slow Burn is an ongoing series of experiments. With each one, I learn something new which leads me to the next experiment.
As we rush ahead to embrace new digital technologies we are leaving the imaging potential of traditional light sensitive materials relatively untapped. Confined, as they have largely been, to representational reproduction. With this is mind I push these materials to record perceptual experience rather than accurate image. Using analogue photographic methods and crude, handmade cameras, I explore the materiality of the photographic medium and it’s capacity to interact with and represent place and landscape in new ways.
Recent experiments have included filling the camera with live insect and plant specimens while photographing as well as folding the film up so that it reacts to light as a 3-dimensional object. I attempt to rupture our perception by making the flawed material of the film itself as visible as the image it has captured. There is also a sense of gradual loss in this work, the loss of natural places, of time and of the analogue photographic materials that make these experiments possible. My methodology is informed by the strategies of field biology, Victorian naturalism, and homespun science; practices that employ intense and prolonged observation of natural phenomena.
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