A Short Biographical History

As an artist I use historic photographic analogue technologies. My work explores landscape, particularly in remote areas of the world, and focused on my passion for exceptional trees and natural formations.

I use a nineteenth-century portable field plate camera to make large-scale, cinematic photos. In a contemporary way, my photographs reflect the nineteenth-century romantic landscape paintings.

However, my analogue photography and the resulting analogue and/or digital photo prints are not nostalgic retrospectives. I am someone who searches, discovers and explores the landscape on foot. Capturing specific incidence of light and a different perspective does not make my work documentary, but processes the image into a transformative experience. I consider myself an anachronistic artist who develops her own visual language.

At the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel, Switzerland, I first used a camera obscura, a self-built pinhole camera. During my postgraduate study at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, I made working with the pinhole camera into my primary work. I re-created my photographic prints of silver gelatin using historical chemical recipes. This transformation from large format black and white pinhole photographs to monochromatic color images, like in the series Carousel, eventually became my personal imagery.

While teaching in Chongqing, China in 2005, I deepened my vision on my own work with the series, Bamboo Sea. Although I witnessed a changing and dynamic modern China, I was looking for landscapes I knew from Chinese painting. The traditional Chinese landscape paintings emphasize the grandeur and the forces of nature over man. With this, I feel deeply connected.

In the past 15 years I have developed a very personal interpretation of the landscape by experimenting with analogue color negative film. By using reflection and absorption of light, and long exposure times, I influence the dyes in the film, creating a painterly language within the medium itself. I physically reverse the analog film in my camera. In fact, I shoot through the material of the film itself. The result is a partially or fully complementary color registration in the film. In the series, Confronting the Sublime, I further applied this process to articulate the imagery.

The starting point of the photo series, Confronting the Sublime: the CDF Project, was my interest in the work of the nineteenth-century painter, Casper David Friedrich. In an attempt to understand the poetic connection with his work, I travelled to Rügen. My research is influenced by the place itself and has a great impact on my final works.

With my most recent series American Sublime, photography of the classic North American landscape, I used an identical method to let the landscape influence me. For American Sublime series, although I had a clear plan of the pre-selected locations, during my search through the landscape, I let the landscape itself influence my work in an intuitive way. The series, not only shows a landscape of grand proportions but also hints at underlying issues of water, land and rights of those who live within these special landscapes. For me, this gives a contextual development to the work. The American Sublime series is still a work in progress.

My passion for photography continues. My work insists on the origin of photography and its materials. I am dedicated to explore, expand and deepen photography as an art form.

Copyright Betsy Green 2024

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