TORRANCE YORK

Near and Far

Functional Ground

Road Works

Near and Far

In her 2016 new work, “Near & Far”—which includes images work from Paris, France and areas of Connecticut, USA, TorranceYork captures close up details found in the context of public spaces, often photographed from ground level and using a narrow depth of field. In this way the viewer is visually drawn into the depicted scene and observes a different perspective than seen at eye-level. Near elements are juxtaposed with distant ones and the picture space is manipulated by what the artist chooses to place in sharp focus versus what falls into a soft blur. York offers a representation of her experience in each photographed environment and the value it holds for her.

Included in the exhibition is a suite of four large images taken at the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.  The photographs have blue skies with the colorful distant flowers forming geometric shapes behind crisp green grasses. In one, a background tree plays a leading role as it cascades forward onto a horizontal display of colorful plantings.  A centerpiece of the exhibit is a 44 x 44 inch Fall scene taken in New Canaan’s Waveny Park showing tall grasses towering above distant green trees, a soft orange leaf dominating the foreground.

Beginning with her Functional Ground series and over the past 15 years, York has titled her landscapes with the GPS coordinates from which each image was taken. She is drawn to the systematic nature of the GPS technology. However, the images that are anchored by the longitude and latitude are her subjective response to that specific place and point in time. In turn, the number and image serve as diaristic markers of her photographic journey.

York’s Functional Ground series presents a portrait of a place—a Hudson Valley dairy farm, horse farm and the roads and fields surrounding them. Seven images from this series complete the exhibit as they explore the microcosm within the ecosystem of this crossroads. 

Functional Ground series 

At the crossroads of Gretna and Melville sits a dairy farm. In the series Functional Ground, the artist explores the visual terrain of this working farm and the surrounding roads and fields. Shooting with a shallow depth of field and often at ground level, these images draw the viewer’s attention to the specific details of the scene—to the microcosm within this ecosystem. 

Science and technology have given us new ways to catalog our world and our whereabouts. Each image in this series is titled with the date and the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates of the point from which it was photographed. Using this data emphasizes the connection between the interpreted image and the physical source. While the images show a natural environment marked by human use, the GPS coordinates refer to the artist’s tracks as she photographs this environment. 

York is drawn to the systematic nature of the GPS technology. However, the images that are anchored by the longitude and latitude are her subjective response to that specific place and point in time. Each coordinate, simple in number, in fact represents a living environment with its own character and narrative. With the GPS coordinates providing a skeleton, these images create a portrait of a place. 

Road Works series 

One change since moving to Connecticut from New York City three years ago is that Torrance York spends much more time driving. Whereas she used to watch people while walking in the City, she now focuses on the road. When she sees a skid mark, she wonders what circumstances created it. This curiosity is no doubt linked to the death of the artist’s father, who fell asleep at the wheel of his car when she was a child. Many years later as a young adult she visited the crash site but saw no trace of the accident. 

In this body of work, York examines marks on the road that cause her to question, invent a narrative or interpret a metaphor. These marks range from the functional to the accidental to the intentional expression. For example, lines that guide traffic, but end suddenly; marks indicating on-going public works; surface cracks repaired with tar lines drawn to follow them; and graffiti drawn in tar. 

Ms. York uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to mark the longitude and latitude of the waypoint from which she takes each photograph. Each image is titled with the GPS coordinates indicating that it is one view from that point on Earth. She collects this data to track her steps on these roads, to record her own experience. Recognizing her fantasy that there would be a trace possibly marking her father’s exit from this world has led her to look at roads in a different way—to see roads themselves as road signs and to read their marks as metaphors.