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The Great Wide Open: Panoramic Photographs of the American West

July 17. 2001

... For Halverson, the connection with panoramic camera was direct. In 1991, she moved from New York to Los Angeles, from the East to the West.

"I'd been doing photography in the West since the 1980's and used 4" x 5" and 6 cm x 9cm cameras before", she says. "When I moved here, one of the first things that struck me was Mulholland Drive, which I knew about from seeing David Hockney's painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mulholland Drive is really interesting; it runs across the city and bisects it. I wanted to photograph it and thought immediately of the panoramic camera."

First, she rented one, then she bought one. For the next two years, she photographed Mulholland Drive from the Pacific coast to its inland end.

"I fell in love with the format," Halverson says. "First of all, any change in format stirs you up and makes you see creatively in a new way. The first compositional element is frame, so immediately you compose differently."

Today she uses a Fuji 617 camera, which takes 120 millimeter film and can produce a negative 2¼ inches high and 6¾ inches wide.

"The format is created by the camera," she explains. "What makes it feel panoramic is the aspect ratio - in this case, 1:3."

Halverson prefers color and has three works in the show. "Hoover Dam" is part of her Colorado River series, undertaken in 1994 - 95. Here, she was inspired by the beauty and magnitude of the dam.

"It's one of the most wonderful pieces of art deco architecture," she says. "It was the first major American dam to be built, an extraordinary accomplishment of engineering, completed in 1935. On the other hand, "Thermopolis, Wyoming" holds more irony. Looking down a deserted road bounded by a wooden fence stretching into the horizon, a sign on the left fence stands out: Buffalo are dangerous. "There's not a buffalo in sight -- why not a warning rather than a statement?" ...