/15 Mountains

Noah Wilson

Our Land

The photographs in this series use landscape imagery appropriated from an archive of early 20th century negatives that I acquired while working as artist in residence at the San Francisco dump. Many of the negatives depict scenes from our National and State Parks, as well as numerous other locations throughout the American West. These negatives have a nitrocellulose base (a medium used between 1889-1930s, but replaced in the 1920s by Kodak “Safety Film” because of its proclivity to decay and self-combust). Due to the unstable nature of this film, the negatives exist in various stages of deterioration and distress.

I’ve used a flatbed scanner and sunlight as a backlighting source to record both the surface of the negatives and the photographic image held within. Depending on the quality of the sunlight (diffused or direct), I capture a different interpretation of the negative with each scan, and I build the images out of multiple scans to create a composite that portrays the place that was photographed as well as the degradation of the medium.