Immersive photography
Chindle point, 2009


Blue Mesa, 1994

The first time I visited the park was in 1994, on my way from Albuquerque to Tempe. I spent half a day, taking several views with a 4x5' camera and some 120 roll films for details.
I was deeply impressed with the colours of the earth and the petrified wood and promised myself I would return.
In 2006, with my son Giorgio, I took the first immersive photos. It had only just been snowing and white traces of snow merged with the red ochre, yellow and purple of the mud.
It so happened that, towards the end of 2008, I discovered almost by accident, on the official site of the Petrified Forest National Park, that it was possible to spend two weeks there through the artist in residence program.

The artistic project I submitted is called “Connecting the sky to the ground” and consists of a series of immersive photos which reflect the theme. I further propose a “photographic documentation”, or reading of the territory based upon georeferential immersive photos connected to the map of the park.
The project is accepted and I am offered a period of stay in November.
On my arrival , I realise that the name given to the project is more than valid, but it takes on an unforeseen spiritual meaning.
The title had been suggested to me by the nature of the immersive photo itself which in its 360° includes both earth and sky.
But in the Desierto Pintando (as maybe in all deserts), the relationship between earth and sky is greatly enhanced. I also discover that both the sky, Father Sky, and the earth, Mother Earth, are at the origin of many myths and religions of America’s natives, particularly the Navajos, Hopi and Zuni, inhabitants of North Arizona.
I thus seek Father Sky in his manifestations of light during sunrise and sundown, and in the clouds, which in late fall are varied and multiform.
I seek Mother Earth in the corrugated earth, the colours of the mud and the forms of the mountains.
Ever increasingly, together with the solitude, the silence and the extreme crispness of the air, the spirits of this earth appear, which the Romans of the Mediterranean called Genius Loci, and which here have ancient, hidden, names.
I seek them in vain in books on the native myths, but they appear in the forms of the sky and the earth themselves.

Every mountain and every cloud has a name hidden in its form.
These names can be heard whispered between Father Sky and Mother Earth in an embrace of unlimited time and space.

Artist-in-residence Cabin, 2009

© Toni Garbasso