Ellen Jantzen is drawn to the natural world: oceans, rivers, lakes and mountains. Landscapes have provided endless inspiration to artists throughout history – from Romantic painters to contemporary environmental photographers. Yet, Jantzen’s artworks do not depict nature as we know it. Instead, we are presented with an altered vision of the world – photomontages created through a process of manipulation. Hands emerge from glitch-like fields. Arms float in mid-air. Clouds touch the earth. Vertical stripes stretch trees skywards.
The series is a product of swift developments in lens-based technology. “As digital cameras began producing excellent resolution, I found my perfect medium,” she explains. “It was a true confluence of technical advancements and creative desire that culminated in my current explorations – using a camera to capture imagery and a computer to alter, combine and manipulate the pieces.”
Jantzen blurs the lines between truth and fiction, making us aware of the editing process that belies much of today’s media. “Photography is a medium for recording reality, but I subvert its traditional intent,” the artist reflects. “Historically, photography has, at times, been used to skew reality but in a way that was undetectable to the viewer. What interests me is the way I can play around with memory and time by combining photos from the past and present into one unified piece.”
It’s also possible to view the images as a statement on mankind’s dominion over nature, and the importance of reassessing this relationship. Either way, Jantzen is keen to leave their meaning up to the viewer. Her work has been exhibited and published internationally – recognised by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, International Photography Awards and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award. Jantzen was part of the Aesthetica Art Prize longlist in 2016.
Words: Eleanor Sutherland
All images courtesy Ellen Jantzen.