“I’m fascinated by plants, how they support our biosphere and essentially our existence,” photographer Marco Walker says as he prepares to present a new body of work, Power Plant, at The Dot Project, Chelsea. Those familiar with Walker’s photography will recognise his sumptuous colours, and the elusive technique he uses to blend the hues and compositions of surrealism with digital technology. First shooting with coloured filters, Walker then cuts and layers his images as you would collages, before reshooting the final piece. “Before I started using collage, I used to shoot a lot with flash to make the subject pop, and separate the subject from its background. But plain photography felt a bit restrictive.” Walker explains. “By cutting shapes and juxtaposing the subject matter with collage you can exaggerate this effect, and that has given me the possibility to be more creative. Now we are in a digital age everyone takes ‘perfect’ photos on their iPhones, so collage enables me to create my own style and vision.”
In the past, Walker has applied this method to portraits and landscapes, but for the nine new works he has produced for Power Plant he turns his camera to botany, and the resulting works are more striking than ever. The Dot Project founder India Whalley sees the work as “creating a feeling of nostalgia. The sunset images are little portals that take you back to dreamy holidays gone by.”
There is a nostalgic sensibility to Power Plant, and perhaps a touch of wistfulness too. “I read an article in the New Yorker about plant intelligence. An American scientist has done some experiments and proved that plants have feelings. This triggered my series for this show,” Walker says. The exhibition's title, however, hints at the contradiction present in mankind's fascination with nature, as we wrestle to dominate our environment with technology, too often resulting in irredeemable destruction.
This is something that clearly concerns Walker, whose practice has been enriched by encounters with flora and fauna, from cactus gardens in Monaco to Kew Gardens. “I sometimes shoot in infrared to depict the world in a surreal way, which I think highlights nature and our destruction of it,” he says. His photographs celebrate the beauty of the natural world, while acknowledging that the very presence of humanity is a menace to it. “I hope I bring more awareness to the world of plants, as we’re so caught up in digital world, where we take less time to stop and appreciate our surroundings.”
Marco Walker: Power Plant runs until October 2, 2016 at The Dot Project, London.