Artist's Statement

Jonathan Lipkin

What is it about the infinite that so enchants us?

The ocean is changing, repetitive, and stable. Waves crash steadily onto the beach as the horizon stretches limitlessly before us. Ocean is the first chapter of a series that examines our relationship with the natural world, silence, and infinity. It explores our perception of the sea, and how vision is expressed photographically through composite photographs exhibited at monumental scale.

For years, I pointed my camera at the waves, yet time and again my photographs showed it inert - motionless in time - and never revealed its alchemy, its mystery, its allure. It was this failure that prompted me to formulate a technical and artistic framework to mirror the transience of the sea and create order from the seemingly random, undulating, and interconnected structures of the surf. My photographs witness events that can only be perceived through an active photographic process.

Photographs are said to freeze time, and most exposures are short enough that the passage of time is not apparent. While we have become accustomed to what is often called ‘straight photography,’ this style is not adequate to convey my experience of the ocean. By leaving the camera’s shutter open for several seconds, I create photographs that, while not traditionally sharp, suggest the fleeting nature of the sea. By combining several exposures into a single image, I hint that our perception of a scene is fragmentary and incomplete.

Large prints mirror our view of the ocean’s limitless horizon - the nothing you look at when you forget you are looking. The aspect ratio of my photographs approximates our field of vision as we gaze at the vista of the sea. Smaller prints create a more intimate experience.

The ocean calls to me. These photographs are my response.

44” x 88” edition of 3 + 1 AP, archival pigment print mounted on Dibond

24” x 48” edition of 7 + 1 AP, mounted on Sintra