Working with the elements can often feel like an uphill battle, especially for photographers. But California-based artist Thomas Jackson has adapted to the challenge by letting the wind be a collaborator in his art. Together, man and nature created a series of dreamy images featuring the mutable forms of colorful tulle soaring over Californian seascapes on the back of a strong breeze.
“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the possibility of human-made systems working in sync with nature, rather than in opposition to it,” Jackson tells My Modern Met. “With this latest body of work, I’ve explored that theme in my own modest way by trying to create sculptures that respond to the elements instead of resisting them.” To do this, the artist needed a material that would withstand the weather. He chose nylon tulle because it is lightweight, flexible, highly durable, and can be used for multiple shoots.
“In the past, I’ve viewed the wind as a threat to my outdoor installations, which are often quite fragile, but in 2020 I embraced California’s strong offshore breezes as my artistic collaborator, the force that could transform lifeless scraps of fabric into fast-moving brush fires, rolling fog, wildflower super blooms, or other natural phenomena,” he continues. While the nebulous textiles resemble kites in some of the images, in others, their forms take on a more cottony appearance.
The series takes place primarily on the scenic shores of Point Reyes and Stinson Beach in northern California, near San Francisco. “The initial inspiration for the series was fire,” Jackson explains. “As a California resident living in a vulnerable area, the threat of fire and the resulting pollution became a constant preoccupation. Once I started shooting, however, the work took on a life of its own. Some of the installations ended up resembling fire, but others assumed more abstract, inscrutable forms. The wind, it turned out, is an unreliable artistic collaborator, and many of the shoots turned out completely different from what I initially envisioned. However, fire remains the guiding inspiration for this series as I go forward.”
Scroll down to see more colorful photographs by Jackson, and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with his latest projects.