Cross Lands is a new series of large-scale photographic prints by David S. Allee.
Allee’s photographs expose anonymous places in our contemporary landscape where the forces of architecture, planning, and design have become blurred. Parks, garages, commercial properties and apartment complexes overlap and sit side-by-side, resulting in strange spatial compositions and unusual functional combinations. Using large format negatives and long exposure times, Allee has depicted many of these places at night, enhancing and emphasizing the artificial and synthetic nature of the landscapes. He dramatically captures these “cross lands,” which have arisen to fulfill economic and spatial demands of our cities and suburbs as they rapidly grow, merge, and redevelop.
While many practitioners of architecture and planning are concerned with culture, history and form, these landscapes are not guided or shaped by such issues. They are invented environments, yet they are totally unlike the more traditional and coherent examples of this phenomenon, such as planned communities, shopping malls, or theme parks. The landscapes in Allee’s photographs are the result of accident and improvisation. A more unusual relationship with structure, land, and nature is suggested, one that is not guided by a sense of integrity, security, familiarity, and sameness.
In some images, a bizarre hybrid of uses and structures has developed, creating a mix of functions that seem at times unreal. For example, in Fearless Park, a large illuminated billboard stands in a civic park, towering over it and transforming this recreational space into a foreboding environment. In Tree Farm, a tree nursery runs under power lines, forming an odd but efficient marriage of industry and nature. These images reflect some of the increasingly real complexities in our willful and uneasy relationship to the environment, a relationship that shifts between control and randomness, beauty and strangeness, comfort and fear.