Artist's Statement

Ella Morton

24x30 and 16x24 Chromira prints

The Dissolving Landscape is a series of experimental analogue photographs that examine climate change in the Arctic and Subarctic landscapes of Canada and Nordic Europe. The project asks the question: what are we losing, in terms of our spiritual connection to the land, as the climate rapidly changes? I consider myself a poetic activist, articulating the profundity of our relationship with the land, and the emotional complexity of its change and loss as global warming unfolds.

The images are treated in the darkroom with mordançage, a black and white process that degrades the shadow areas of silver gelatin prints, lifting the emulsion off the paper to create unique textures and veils. My goal in using mordançage is to capture the transcendent and fragile qualities of the landscape. The ways in which the images warp, melt and degrade highlight the spiritual power of the natural environment and also lament its destruction as the planet warms.

Research has shown that the Arctic is warming at almost twice the global rate. Many of the communities I’ve visited in northern regions have been witnessing the effects of climate change for decades already. While global warming is now a common theme in news reportage and traditional documentary work, I believe that my film alteration techniques offer a new way for viewers to engage with this issue on a deeper level. Photography can help to communicate the depth of our connection with the land and the urgency of its accelerating deterioration.

This work also addresses how the medium of photography itself is in transition. The proliferation of consumer photography through the emergence of smart phones and social media has challenged artists to use the medium in new ways. I aim to uncover how photographs can show more than a straightforward depiction of reality, and how the alchemy of analogue techniques can be reinvented in the digital age to tell deeper stories within images.