Steven Benson: The Aesthetics of Transformation
January 11, 2023 – February 4, 2023
ARTALK: JANUARY 16, 2023, BLACK BOX THEATRE
These photographs are representative of a long-term project that reflects an ongoing interest in the idea of transformation. For the past six-years I’ve been creating images that explore the activities and artifacts associated with the process of transforming the landscape by an enormous infrastructure project. My goals are very different from anyone else working on the new I-4 highway running through Central Florida. Everything focused on has to do with physics – weight loads and distribution, gravity, traffic flow and water runoff. I’m looking at it from an aesthetic perspective, seemingly referencing the past, present and future, as the constructed environments can feel like ruins of a former civilization. I’m reminded of Margaret Bourke-White when she said industrial forms “were all the more beautiful because they were never designed to be beautiful. Industry…had evolved an unconscious beauty – often a hidden beauty that was waiting to be discovered.” The constructed environments I’m exploring function as ‘unintended’ site-specific sculptures or land art often presenting miraculous potential for photographic engagement. The process of making these photographs function as a collaborative activity with individuals I only know through the evidence of their actions.
Steven Benson is an associate professor and program manager at the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies at Daytona State College. Steven received his masters degree in fine art from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is the recipient of three Creative Artist grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts and a NEA/ArtsMidwest Fellowship.
Collections include the Museum of Fine Art-Houston, Detroit Institute of Arts, the Portland Art Museum, Centre Georges Pompidou, and Museet for Fotokunst-Denmark. Feature articles about his work have appeared in European Photography (Germany), Katalog (Denmark), Creative Camera (England), American Photo, CameraArts, Urbanautica, PhotoMondo.dk and Cerise Press.
His solo exhibitions include the Centre Georges Pompidou, photography festivals and biennials and triennials in Argentina, South Korea, Germany, Syria, Poland, China, Denmark and FotoFest (2004 & 2008). His book, The Cost of Power in China: The Three Gorges Dam and the Yangtze River Valley, was published by Black Opal Press (2006) with essays by A.D. Coleman and Dai Qing. His work was the subject of a retrospective at the Southeast Museum of Photography during the 2012 exhibition, “Steven Benson: Space and Time-Forty Years in Photographs”.
Steven has specializations in editorial, annual report and advertising photography providing photographic services to publishers, advertising agencies, design firms and Fortune 500 companies. He has been sent on assignment throughout North America and Europe and to Mexico, the Caribbean, Russia, Brazil and Japan for clients such as AT&T, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Unisys, Borg-Warner, Allied Signal, Hughes JVC Technology Corporation and Canadian National Railroad, among others.
He has been an educator and fine art and commercial freelance photographer for more than 25 years. He is on the National Board of Directors of the Society for Photographic Education and the board of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)-Central Florida.