September 26, 2021 ·

Josh Reichmann

John Paul Caponigro’s recent work, Global Warning, warns   viewers of the climate change crisis occurring on Earth. John Paul is an internationally collected visual artist and photographer, who combines his background in painting with traditional and alternative photographic processes using state-of-the-art digital technology. Global Warning was developed as a combination of the arts through photography, poetry and digital art.

John Paul Caponigro is hardly sheepish about the energy and impetus behind this new and profoundly timely work. Still, the word gestation punctuates his description of coming to manifest this critical photographic art.

We are bombarded by a deluge of data, ticking clocks and count-downs to carbon overload or warming points of no return. Recently though, the climate seems somewhat backburner to a confluence of chaotic issues come to mark our world now. The pandemic and civil rights, the breakdown of social compacts, desires for coherent sense-making, and the fractured relationship to power and media seem to be confusing our attunement with the environment. We have been punctured by one arrow, and the canon is now facing us.

Something tells me that the environment will re-emerge as a top down mediated issue, and if 2020 and 2021 are any indictaion, it will be an increasibly incoherent time where fear and panic will be weoponized. This does nothing to alter the truth our environmental crises.

John has not taken his eye off of the larger and looming story of our planet’s atmospheric and ecological situation, The Anthropocene– a man-made or man stimulated epochal shift where the earth herself enters a drastic rate of change is upon us. John’s latest work is a personal howl and capture of this eclipsing truth.

I am personally embedded in communities that focus on overlapping pollutions, bioclimatic building, low-impact living, and how to square our consumer industrial lifestyle and unsustainable behaviors with stewardship of our planet and self healing.

None of this hopeful or engaged thinking has been able to shield me from the feeling of our planet’s call and upheaval, purging and revolt as she responds to our juvenile use of resources, arrogant interaction with her lungs, waters, and soil.

John’s mourning mirrors my own, but where I have never cataloged that in photography, he has. And he has done so in a potently fitting eulogy and deeply poetic song of his own.

John and I spent over an hour digging into his process. His history and his methods. I will invariably post a follow-up with more images and excerpts from our discussion.

John teaches his university courses with an eye squarely set on how the computer monitor’s calibration and quality are crucial to the photographer’s color adjusting and playful designing. His use of the monitor as defining tool for viewing and choice making, second to nothing, is a philosophy for image-making many will find novel and others will be familiar with. The viewfinder, in his words, is an unreliable core interface mostly because human memory will not suffice to define the story of the image. Consciousness is a (the?) fickle riddle, but the monitor is a stable tool to examine the image, worthy of our making it the HQ for defining our work.

The monitor, once the pixels are processed, is where the magic happens. For John, this is the truth space. The canvas is found when the screen reveals what is and what is not.

Using Sharp NEC Display Solutions, John has ostensibly mastered the process of monitor to print. His prints find life only when he is satisfied with the monitor’s color expression. He says that paper and printing have evolved sufficiently to allow for a print to reflect an image once an artist has settled on their monitor’s capacity to project something worth printing.

His use of NEC Monitor is primary to his process and defines this body of work. A body of work that uses metaphor and aesthetic mirroring, reflecting a hazy feel of something daunting to come. His work holds a somber beauty, opening us up to the mood and mind state he has been living with, gestating as he has metabolized his relationship with this overwhelming global, planetary crisis.

A crisis that for John is a spiritual one. One that calls out through the planet to our bodies and demands our reverence and acknowledgment as individuals. His appeal to the spiritual and the personal asks us to let down the conceptual relationship to climate change, the political and the abstract, and to internalize ourselves as nature, not just stewards of it. Not simply as dislocated beings floating around, nor as extensions of nature and of the planet, but to seek within and see our natures as inextricably linked to the planets as one.

The Gaia story does not simply affect us or future generations as a civilization but requires us to inspect and integrate our core truth. The truth of what it is to be human and to be both an atomized and singular unit and integral part of a living whole. To really feel this.

The tone of John’s work and his pallet of colors pronounce a mourning and vibrant awe at once. A type of deep ache and honoring of the living biosphere including the human collective, our cultures, bodies, minds, and energy.

This type of work reminds and encodes us with the awareness of what we have to lose. Not just our planet, not our safety, not our moral and spiritual duty, but our ability to see life continue. And if life is not central to our value, then nothing is left to discuss for me.

His work is best experienced.

The discussion, in many ways, has, like our words, been almost exhausted.

Josh Reichmann

September 2021

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Josh Reichmann

Photography has been a primary medium for my creative expression since early childhood. The Luminous Landscape is a family business, passion, and community which I am thrilled to carry forward and build upon.

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