Planes of Existence

Kevin Cooley’s (b. 1975) work offers a “phenomenological, systems-based enquiry into humanity’s contemporary relationship with the five classical elements – earth, air, fire, water and aether.” His latest series reveal the struggles – both practically and psychologically – of inhabiting a planet we, as a species, are slowly destroying. Images from Still Burning, for example, depict moments before, during, and after the La Tuna Canyon Fire in September 2017, which burned through approximately 7,194 acres in the Verdugo Mountains, Los Angeles, and nearly destroyed Cooley’s house, studio, and entire photographic archive. Blazing pink skies are presented alongside the slow-shuttered tracking of flight paths; celestial constellations are seen against lone ocotillo plants in the desert. The colour palette and focused lighting is unsettlingly mesmerising – deep purples, midnight blues and dusky oranges hold our attention as the landscape is incinerated in the distance.

Image Credits: 1. Kevin Cooley, Octillo, Anza Borrego (2020).
2. Kevin Cooley, Lone Pine Fire II (2017).
3. Kevin Cooley, Octillo, Anza Borrego (2020).
4.Kevin Cooley,Lone Pine Fire (2017).
5. Kevin Cooley, Dark Sky, Montello (2017).
6. Kevin Cooley, Takeoffs JFK Runway 13R Sunset (2006).
7. Kevin Cooley, Cheatgrass, Montello (2017).