In 1799, German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt embarked on a journey across the Americas, cataloguing everything he could find: plants, minerals, capybaras, canals, and more. Humboldt proposed that the world is “one great organism in which everything is connected” – a theory that inspired Charles Darwin. He introduced the concept of ecosystems and was one of the first naturalists to notice the destructive effects of humans on the planet.
In 2017, photographer Christopher Edward Rodriguez stumbled upon Humboldt’s work. He’s been thinking about what the camera can really see when nearly every inch of the planet is “shaped, directed, and photographed to death.” He took Humboldt’s ideas and set out to travel across the Americas, creating a series of images showing the planet “as if it had never been seen before.” He used long exposures, artificial lighting, and colored gels to “circumvent the scientific accuracy of cameras.” His aim in taking the pictures was to convey a “consistent sense of strangeness” that embodied Humboldt’s forgotten creed: “Everything is interactive and reciprocal”.