SAWMILL is a series that was photographed in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, the most geo-thermically active location on the planet. Consisting of never–before–seen images of tumultuous geysers shot at night with high-powered flash, they present unquantifiable detail while at the same time inviting a reconsideration of photography’s veracity.
While Wright shot hundreds of images of dozens of geysers, including the iconic Old Faithful, the images presented here are the result of a single night of eruptions from Sawmill Geyser. Sawmill had been erupting continually every 1 to 3 hours since 1871. In 2017, it suddenly stopped. The last observed eruption occurred January 29 of that year. Reputedly the only known images of geysers shot with high-speed flash, these views retain much of the tenuous and fragile character that, according the Wright, is the very hallmark of photography itself. Sawmill Geyser may never be seen again.
These images will only be available or exhibited while Sawmill Geyser remains dormant.
Wright's images of inky black void and lustrous waters and steam conceivably remain as the most recent, detailed and poetic record of the fleeting events of Sawmill Geyser. These images are a continuation and expansion of Wright’s Illuminated Landscapes series begun in 2001, and are reminiscent of his well-known Water’s Edge (2005), shot at the base of Niagara Falls. Using techniques drawn from the indoor photographic studio and applied to landscape, an overt artificiality characterizes large images that contain both complexities essentially impossible to depict, even photographically, and areas empty blackness. While photography feverishly promises to capture more, to remember more, and to substitute for more, it also continuously points out its own failures. Wright exploits this contradiction in his artistic practice by creating both conventional and idea-based works that seek to broaden the very definition of photography itself.