Student Work

  • Photography (MFA)

    Sylvia Hardy

    The Return

    The necessity and inevitability of change in relation to the physical world is the focus of my practice. In The Return, I utilize the transformative properties of photography, video, and my subjects to counter the myth-making tendency of our culture’s relationship to landscape. In the video, a Mimosa Albizia tree is documented in real time as its light-sensitive leaves open and close in response to the manipulation of light. In the black and white photograph, the tree itself is captured motionless. Breaking from the traditional use of silver gelatin paper, I use the light sensitive surface of mural sized photography paper to document traces of the land. The paper continues to change from vibrant to dull tones after its contact with stones, plants, roadside objects, and soil because of its continual exposure to atmospheric light. The photographic emulsion changes as it is exposed in the vast expanse of the U.S. and then transported back to New York City. Because the photogram-like impression disappears with time, the photograph refuses its ability to be archival but recycles itself into new imagery in continuous change. In a half attempt to preserve, I place red dirt or straw over certain areas of the paper to slow the light from changing the image. Then, I return the paper to another site, and the process is altered once again. Here, the process of choosing what to sustain or what to let go causes an intellectual and laborious process both literal and metaphorical in its change of identity.