Christopher Rodriguez, an American architect and photographer born in 1980, presented Naturgemälde (2018), a series of volcanic fragments at the crossroads between science and fiction.

Christopher Rodriguez, born in New Orleans and based in New York, graduated in architecture and then in fine arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. The photographer creates images that blur the line between reality and fiction. In this series, he builds a personal imaginary. “By photographing natural phenomena, I create images on the verge of the strange. I compose my images as one would compose an architectural model,” he says. The term “naturgemälde” in German means “painting of nature”. Coined by Alexander Humboldt − an 18th century German naturalist, geographer and explorer, it refers to the interdependence of the natural world in a holistic vision. Humboldt was the first scientist to think of nature as a whole, influencing the views of romantic poets and artists of the time. Christopher Rodriguez was inspired by this vision that places nature in a total and superhuman entity. “It is my relationship with Humbolt: documenting natural phenomena with the conviction that nature can only be understood by going beyond the limits of reality.” He thus produces a poetic work that explores the magical nature.

Seizing the essence of nature

Christopher Rodriguez, with Naturgemälde, tries to capture the entire ecosystem, which he considers to be an interdependent network of life. “Each of my photographs becomes a constitutive part of my vision and of nature as a whole,” he says. The role of nature in his photographs has evolved over time. “When I was young, I was captivated by the romantic landscapes of the American West. Ansel Adams and his huge mountains went beyond my imagination. It is only by mixing imagination with photography that nature can be understood,” adds Christopher Rodriguez. Through his series Naturgemälde, he tries to capture the essence of natural phenomena through imagination. “I am looking for the tension between the way nature actually exists in the world – like a tree, or a rock, he explains, and a new augmented nature codified by my imagination.” Christopher Rodriguez modifies colours and builds artificial lighting to challenge our realistic vision of the environment. With it, nature becomes magical and interconnected. And according to him, nature must now be treated as an end in itself. Her images invite us to transcend its limits and conceive it as a total and fascinating entity.

© Christopher Rodriguez