My work examines the construction of desire, fiction and beauty in our urban landscapes. My process begins by making thousands of individual photographs, videos and audio recordings while exploring a city or neighborhood. In the studio, I then digitally assemble these sources to create photographs and videos of imaginary spaces. Some of these composite images have some veracity, but more often they suggest visual hyperbole – an embellished scene circulating around a small detail or object that fascinated me. These composite images function as a metaphor to the ways in which desire is physically constructed in the landscape.
I came of age in the southwestern suburbs, and became sensitized to the aspirational quality of the front yards of our streets. Each street was nuanced with desire, achievement, and personal aesthetics. In the various places I have lived, I have been attracted to the different architecture, but noticed similar yearnings for perfection and delineation. In the images I create, my fabrications highlight the ways in which our built environments pull from a variety of different architectural and landscape styles and reflect cultural ideas of beauty and perfection.
The source photographs for these images where shot throughout the southwest United States and range form Albuquerque, NM to Dallas, TX. There are several sources originating from the developer driven neighborhood I grew up in, Cherry Hills, in Albuquerque, NM.
The images in this project incorporate both urban scenes and still lives. I am interested in the visual and cultural relationship between the objects in the still lives and the urban settings as well as the conceptual parallels of construction and control evident in both types of images.
Images from this series included in the traveling group exhibition Between Earth and Sky: Contemporary Art from the American Southwest. Catalog can be viewed here.
© 2016 Leigh Merrill, All Rights Reserved