Nathan Ely (2019)

Nathan is a photographic artist working out of Buffalo, New York where he is currently completing my MFA.
His artistic practice is an intersection of scientific and historic photographic image making, focusing on the systems of knowledge that expand our horizons beyond direct human experience. Photography has a unique relation to light, space and time – an “objective intelligence”, a connection to the real in the way that “things in themselves” give their reflected forms to the camera. Born through a marriage of science and art, photography has the ability to turn a momentary flash of reflected light into a fixed object, to channel light and create new perspectives that exist outside of human perception.
His recent body of work comes from interdisciplinary research using an electron microscope as the starting point for the production of carefully made sublime representations of nature. The work is meant to present a philosophical perspective through the scientific apparatus of the microscope, drawing analogies between micro and macro space, and de-centering human perspective in order to change our perceived scale to the natural universe.
Nathan predominantly uses analog processes in the final printing of my work for a variety of reasons. Incorporating handcrafted printing techniques places the images further outside of their ordinary taxonomy as objects of science, emphasizing their aesthetic qualities as well as the physicality of the photographic object. The use of light and water in the creation of each print is way of incorporating these essential elements of nature back into the process, creating an additional layer of meaning in the materiality of my work. Nathan believes that continuing to use these methods is of the utmost importance in a visual culture that is almost ubiquitously saturated with digital imagery. His goal is not only to reference the history of the medium but to expand the vocabulary of contemporary photographic art beyond a purely digital space.