MK: The environment and climate change take the spotlight in this work. Is there a long-term goal or anything you’d like to achieve in addressing these issues with your photographs?
EM: I try to make my photographs show the deep, intuitive power that the land stirs within me, and I hope that others recognize this as something they have felt themselves. It is a natural extension from this to address climate change since it is such an imminent concern at this time. In some regards, my work could be seen as a lamentation for the land. However, I think my work also holds a lot of optimism and appreciation for what nature gives us, and how it will outlive us in spite of our abuses to it.
I don’t want to be overly didactic about what we should do about climate change, but I certainly try to make small changes in my own life to mitigate it – I think about what I buy, how I eat, what modes of transportation I use and how I vote as ways to reduce my carbon footprint. It’s up to every person to decide what’s feasible within their own personal circumstances in this regard. I don’t want to cast judgment on anyone, but I think it’s possible for most middle-class folks in developed countries to make informed decisions about how our consumption and actions affect the environment. Even if we’re not doing a perfect job of it, a little effort can collectively go a long way.
MK: With the proliferation of digital technology taking over the photography world, there seems to be some pushback from the analog world. We are beginning to see a trend of more and more photographers taking on historical processes. Do you feel this is exactly that, a trend, or that possibly people have a desire to return to the way we used to create work before the pixel took over?
EM: The media theorist Marshall McLuhan had a good take on this: “A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.”
In other words, digital technology is not a replacement for analog photography, instead, it is forcing analog photography to be re-imagined. Digital technology has “liberated” analog photography to be used more creatively. Once a process becomes outdated, artists naturally find more freedom to experiment with it.
Painting went through a similar “crisis” when photography was first invented in the 1800’s. Painters had to figure out what painting could do now that it no longer had the necessity of representing reality, and thus came impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, and other movements. By the same token, digital photography is forcing a re-invention of analog photography processes, and a lot of great work is coming out of that. I think this is an exciting time to be a photographer, and I don’t think the analog resurgence is a trend. Analog photography processes can offer us such beautiful alchemy that no other medium can replicate, and I think artists will continue to recognize this for many generations.