Charles Lindsay


November 2, 2011 – February 5, 2012

car•bon [kahr-buhn] (noun): A widely distributed element that is the physical basis of all living organisms. Carbon atoms are able to link with each other and with other atoms to form infinite varietes of chains and rings. Carbon occurs in a pure state as diamond and graphite, and in an impure state as charcoal.

A photographer, musician, and installation artist who originally trained to be a geologist, Charles Lindsay is fascinated by the aesthetics of scientific imaging and the great experiment that is life on earth. His work harnesses the organic, the sensory, and the mechanized to explore our perception of the universe and the evolution of symbols. At the heart of “CARBON” is a hybrid camera-less process Lindsay invented. This imaging technique fuses mark making with photography, utlizing a unique carbon based emulsion that he electrifies, freezes, and manipulates in many ways. The fantastically detailed negatives are scanned at high resolution, digitally processed, and then printed or animated. A similar analog to digital transformation occurs in his sound works, beginning with field recordings he gathers in remote environments and then processes.

“My influences range from bizarre bio-forms and insect polyrhythms to fluorescent minerals and galactic super-structures. The bioluminescent comb jellyfish is a prime example. Making art is a way to explore pattern recognition and modes of perception and communication. What are the visceral and emotional responses to these stimuli? How does our mind grasp a new experience or process an unfamiliar shape that subconsciously elicits fear? I am intrigued by the idea that so much of our most trusted knowledge is based on images from beyond our normal scope of vision. With this in mind I am interested in our rapid evolutionary arc from early primates to astronauts and the increasing role devices play in ‘seeing’. How will we evolve as as a species, will biology and artificial intelligence merge and what does life on earth suggest about what intelligent life might look or sound like elsewhere in the universe? Conceptually, I become most curious when ideas reach beyond the anthropocentric to suggest worlds with vastly different evolutionary paths from our own. The implication inherent to CARBON is the existence of species of consciousness other than our own.”

Imbued with the clarity of vision possessed by explorers throughout the ages, Charles Lindsay’s CARBON project is a journey into mysterious and uncharted realms. He presents his art both as physical touchstones from psychological journeys and as catalysts to activate the viewer’s senses, offering access to hidden dimensions which fill us with wonder and a curiosity for the unknown.

Charles Lindsay spent ten years covering environmental issues as a photojournalist in Asia before moving back to the U.S. Solo exhibitions of CARBON have previously appeared at the Dennos Museum in Michigan, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts in Idaho, and Visions West Gallery in Colorado. Lindsay’s work was included in Lyle Rexer’s book The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography (Aperture 2009) and in the accompanying exhibition at the Aperture Foundation in NYC. His multimedia performances and electronic and experimental music was most recently presented at New York University’s Frederick Lowe Theater. Lindsay’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Art, Houston; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Hewlett Packard Contemporary Art Collection.

A visual artist as well as a photo journalist, Lindsay’s photographs have appeared in numerous international publications including The New York Times Magazine, Blind Spot, Aperture, Men’s Journal, Sports Illustrated, CPW’s PQ, and others. He has been profiled on National Public Radio, and CNN International. He has lectured at the American Museum of Natural History, Pratt Institute, and the Open Center in New York, among others. Four monographs on his work have been published to date including Mentawai Shaman: Keeper of the Rain Forest (Aperture 1992). Recently appointed to the Executive Committee of Musicians for the Environment, a branch of the Electronic Music Foundation, Lindsay is also the recipient of a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship for Photography and is the first artist-in-residence at the renowned SETI Institute.