/25 Altered landscape

Leigh Merrill

Cinder Blocks&Cherry Blossoms

Cinder Blocks and Cherry Blossoms comes from an ongoing interest in the construction of desire, fiction and beauty in our urban landscapes. The subjects in my photographs are often created from ubiquitous objects and architecture. Familiar elements such as the lawn, manicured and manipulated plants, new buildings mimicking other eras and locations, often reveal a culture of perpetual longing. Elements of our constructed environments simulate, or reference other places and histories acting as evidence of desire. I mix together real and fake in my work to create images of places and objects that challenge our expectations or reveal the simulacrum in our environments.

My process begins by making thousands of individual photographs while exploring a city or neighborhood. In the studio, I digitally assemble these sources to create photographs of imaginary spaces. Many of the images have some veracity, but more often they suggest a visual hyperbole – an embellished scene circulating around a small detail or object that fascinated me. These composite images function as a metaphor to the ways in which desire and control is physically constructed in the landscape. I shot the source photographs for Cinder Blocks and Cherry Blossoms throughout the southwest United States. Several of these source photographs are of the developer driven neighborhood I grew up in, Cherry Hills, in Albuquerque, NM.