Nonlinear Dubuque

by featured artist Christopher Paul Brown

Untitled, Diesel Fuel Tank
Digital camera, Photoshop, archival inkjet pigment on Hahnemhule canvas

The series Nonlinear Dubuque focuses on the city of Dubuque, Iowa, but it’s not concerned with recognizable landmarks or scenes.  Rather, I sought to uncover an aspect of its subterranean and ethereal identity.

I was born in Dubuque, Iowa and have been photographing it since the early 1980s.  On my 2017 visit, I found a place long changed from the industrial city of big shoulders I had experienced as a child.  It was now primarily a tourist destination.  I found myself uninterested in documenting its physical presentation, whether past or present.  Instead, I saw it as the cumulative effect of many people. The city was founded in 1833 and, from an early date, it has been a unique junction of railroads, roads and the Mississippi River.  I saw the physical city of today based on a hidden foundation, constructed of the susurrus purr of the many thousands of intentions of residents past and present.  It is this hidden foundation that I intend to reveal.

Untitled, Abandoned Factory
Digital camera, Photoshop, archival inkjet pigment on Hahnemhule canvas

I visited six locations on June 1 and 2 in 2017.  This subset of images is from three locations.  I use alchemy both in my shoots and in post-production.  I straddle a polarity – the most common are intent/openness and obscure/reveal – and thereby allow surprise, synchronicity and serendipity to show up.  In the case of these images I have overlaid five of the same image, each rotated 72 degrees from the adjacent image, and then applied a layering effect.   This kaleidoscopic approach reflects the ethereal aspect of the city I sought to capture.

The intent/openness polarity is vital to my shooting and post-production.  With every click of my camera or mouse I intended an image that best revealed nonlinear Dubuque, open to how the image will manifest.  Planning and mental concepts play minimal roles in my work.  When successful, energies beyond my ken participate; the result is as much a discovery as it is a creation.  I suspect I am dabbling in dimensions beyond the familiar four.

Pinwheel, Resurrection School Parking Lot
Digital camera, Photoshop, archival inkjet pigment on Hahnemhule canvas

Christopher Paul Brown is known for his exploration of the unconscious through improvisation and the cultivation of serendipity and synchronicity via alchemy. Over the past three years, his art has been exhibited twice in Rome, in Italy and in Belgrade, Serbia. His series of ten photographs, titled “Obscure Reveal,” were exhibited at a Florida museum in 2017. In 2020, forty-one of his works appeared in fourteen different journals, magazines and catalogs. Brown earned a BA in Film from Columbia College Chicago in 1980.  He was born in Dubuque, Iowa, and now resides in Buncombe County, North Carolina.

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