“We converse as we live by repeating by combining and recombining a few elements over and
over again just as nature does when of elementary particles it builds a world.” (William H. Gass)
In Echo Sean McFarland continues his investigation into landscape as subject and its representation.
Resolved as a single chapter within the larger framework of Glass Mountains (2012-), Echo engages
repetition with the experience of the singular. A wall of forty-six waterfalls acts as an optical model in
pursuit of interrupting representation of the scene by multiplying, layering, and rhyming the image. Viewed
together, the limitations of the attempt to depict a waterfall or to convey the natural world appear as a
static trope inquisitive of experience and its photographic reproduction. The aftereffect challenges the
limits of perception as it relates to the mediated.
Creating pictures that call attention to the fact that they are constructions, McFarland relies on the
irreconcilability of photographic records and experience, namely physical markers of time and variants in
visual approach, allowing for play in assessing and delivering the record. Reference books made from
cyanotypes become markers that suggest the changeability of photographic methods based on
movement, time, location, and specificity of conditions.
The largest installation in Echo, an ode to the photographic process itself, consists of images made from
2005 to the present. McFarland revisits the past ten years of a vast personal archive, deconstructing the
process of his quest through an expanded palette of Polaroids, newsprint, cyanotypes, silver prints, paint
and graphite. Imbued with the determination to visually depict how photography “operates,” the
installation offers a suggestive still life of equations, of which, perhaps, more than the process itself is
The word, ‘echo’ references historical templates in the language of landscape photography as a
mediation of collective consciousness as it relates to the subject and its representation. Evocations of
grandeur and wonder offer such experiences while simultaneously remaining pieces of paper suggesting
a moonrise or mountain. These constructed views are treated with surrealist approaches through
prismatic offsets, multiple exposures, and the creation of sculpture from photographic material. The
process creates layered abstractions to evidence the illusion of such visual transmission.
Echo approaches the concept of photography as hybrid: part theater, part documentary. McFarland
actualizes the lineage of natural representation by affording the deviant: a coincidental conversation is
revisited across the boundary of time, compelling the experience of the witness beyond strict
documentation, while exposing the emotive mythology of the landscape.