Living in New York over the past fourteen years, much of my work has been focused on the beauty and complexities of the architectural and urban landscape. This resulted in The Bridge Project (commissioned by the Design Trust for Public Space in 2004) a documentation of both the iconic and humble bridges of New York City. About five years ago, I found myself turning my camera away from the flux of the city toward the more contemplative landscape of the coast. This culminated in East/West, a bicoastal documentation of the diverse, ever-changing shoreline of The United States.

My work is a response to places that are on the edges of one thing or another: the edge of a city, the edge where land meets water, where day meets night. After finishing East/West, I was seduced by landscape. I wanted to explore a place that had always held my fascination—the edge of the polar region. Iceland, with its extraordinary geological features and austere landscape had always been a place I had wanted to experience, so I applied and was accepted to a month long residency in Siglufjordur, during November-December of 2013.

Northern Iceland is largely unpopulated, and Siglufjordur is the northernmost town. Initially lured by the northern lights and unique twilight skies of the shortened winter days, I unexpectedly found myself drawn to the magnetic simplicity of the streams, as if the landscape was directing me to them. Starting out as trickles, the streams find their way down the mountains, peeking through snow drifts, meandering, disappearing and reappearing in no coherent fashion. In the course of their downward flow, they begin to interconnect, colliding and interweaving, growing in size and character, creating remarkable and countless formations.

In a place that seems lost in time, these streams are a constant reminder that there are forces of nature at play on a grand scale; a sublime beauty far removed from our everyday lives. There are no clear horizons in these works. The streams almost seem to appear out of a non-place. This work is part of my ongoing investigation into the transformative quality of landscape.

© Jonathan Smith.

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