The Zone


For most of us, the wilderness is place we go in search of things that do not exist on any map. We might take a walk hoping for calm, clarity, isolation or answers to show themselves. None of these things have a physical form, and yet we seek them regardless. This search for the invisible in the physical world is a common thread in many journeys through the outdoors. 


I often hike to clear my mind. While doing so, I photograph the landscape while awaiting clarity to arrive. A reoccurring destination that I journey to and photograph is Acadia National Park, located on Mount Desert Island in Maine. On previous trips to the park, my work focused on capturing general scenes of the park’s landscape. My artistic direction changed during a trip to Acadia in July of 2017. The week before the trip, I saw a newly restored version of Andrei Tarkovsky's film, Stalker. The film caused me to see the park with new eyes.


The film tells the story of three men who navigate a sentient wilderness, called “The Zone”, in search of a room that grants you all of your desires. It is a perfect cinematic parallel to our search for the invisible. Not to mention, the cinematography in the film is extremely well composed with slow movements that hypnotize the audience and illustrate the textures of each scene. With both concept and visuals still fresh in my mind, I decided to take a more contemplative approach to photographing the park. While observing the scenes around me, I began to deconstruct them. While doing so my conscious thought slowed because of where I was directing my attention. This practice of visual distraction might seem counter intuitive to completing the search, but in fact I think it brings us closer to the invisible things we seek.