ROB STEPHENSON (Brooklyn NY, USA)
Rob Stephenson is a landscape and architectural photographer who lives in Brooklyn, NY. His work has been exhibited at numerous galleries and museums including The Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Center for Architecture, and The Museum of the City of New York. He has been awarded fellowships from the Design Trust for Public Space and the New York Foundation for Arts. Stephenson’s first book, From Roof to Table, documenting the urban agriculture movement in New York City, was published in 2012.
Myths of the Near Future
When the last Space Shuttle took off from Kennedy Space Center in 2011 a population and generation defined by the dreams of the Space Age lost the most potent symbol of its identity. This project documents the repercussions of the closing of the shuttle program on the surrounding communities and on the many contradictions the program and its demise engendered.
In his collection of short stories, Memories of the Space Age, novelist JG Ballard describes a near future in which the infrastructure of the US Space Program has been abandoned, its gantries left to decay into the Florida swamp while inanimate astronauts circle the earth in an endless orbit. While the reality is not quite as dystopic as he suggests, the slow decline of the space program and its effects on the economy have made many of Ballard’s descriptions eerily prescient. Land-bound spacecraft, derelict motels and dead satellites tumbling through the darkness of space, all serve as evidence of a future age now passed.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
The ability to make large detailed prints was my primary motivation for shooting large format film. In addition to the output, shooting film necessitates a more deliberate considered approach to composition. In a world marked by diminishing attention spans and endless choices, the limitations in working with film and and a view camera can be a reward in themselves. The more time I spend behind a camera and the less in front of a computer the happier I am.