The PhotoBook Journal

January 31, 2009

Michael Lundgren – Transfigurations

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Doug Stockdale @ 8:56 pm


Photographer: 2008 copyright Michael Lundgren, courtesy Radius Books

Michael Lundgren’s natural landscape photographs in his book Transfigurations published in 2008 by Radius Books are not what you might expect of this genre of photography. It is a very cerebral set of images as if Wynn Bullock had a son name Lee Friedlander. A philosophic look at the landscape.

His photographs are more in line with the New Topographics of a direct recording what is seen in the desert. His theme is metamorphosis and he attempts to capture that intense radiance and wide range of illumination found in the deserts of the Southwest United States.

Lundgren captures subtle and brief changes in the landscape as well as that changes that take long duration’s to manifest itself. In the desert the essence of how we mark time becomes a gray fog blurred by memory. His photographs provide the evidence of change with broad and varied strokes. Such as the photographic pairing within the book of the changing movements of earthly solid rocks with the celestial heavenly bodies.

He plays with scale and tonality and I realize that that what I am looking at is not what exactly I thought it to be. So I find myself reexamining each photograph to re-verify it’s nature. I begin to have doubts and find I need to look closer and make a more critical examination of the “facts” placed before me. A white facing page morphs into a high key desert river bottom and so returning to the previous white facing pages to reexamine these again. A black page ekes out the subtle details of a desert vista as an experience of staying the night in the desert.

The pairing of images within the book provide an interesting juxtaposition and create potentially greater thematic images about the essence of change. A pair of photographs; one of the bright illumination of a full moon while the facing photograph of a landscape with deep shadows are oriented such that the source of illumination within one photograph appears to emanate from the photograph of the facing page.

The photographs are printed with full edge bleeds which implies the feeling of vastness with the images running off the edges much like the endless vistas of the desert. For me in this instance the full bleed images are not comfortable and leaves me uneasy although I do feel that is consistent with the book’s design intent.

The book is available in a trade edition, signed version or in a limited edition with a 16 x 20″ silver gelatin photograph and your choice from any image within the book. The ability to choose which print to be included with the limited edition is a nice touch.


Best regards, Douglas Stockdale









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