Mark Klett
[Photographer, b. 1952, Albany, New York, lives in Tempe, Arizona.]

 Photos always seem to exist as sort of stuffy, unnecessary antiques that we put in a drawer—unless we take them out, put them in current dialogue, and give them relevance. 
 So much of what we know, and what we think we know, about the land has first passed through someone's lens. The interesting thing is to make use of this history, not merely to be absorbed into it. For me, landscape photographs begin as the artifacts of personal moments. They get interesting when they become cultural commentary. 
 We now view landscape photographs, both past and present, much like the shadows on the walls of Plato’s cave. They are artifacts of what we think we know about the land, and how we have come to know it. 
 The most prevalent way of working in photography right now is project oriented: you go after an idea. I like the old way, the intuitive approach. You follow your nose and take pictures and see what emerges. It happens after the fact. 
 I am interested in making photographs which comment on the experience of a place as well as describe it. My position has not typically been one of advocacy for or against any political position. But I regard photographs as commentary, and that includes, at times, taking a specific political viewpoint on an issue. 
 In this world, the spots where the present seems to overlap the past are the most important. These are the points when one becomes aware that the direction of the world can change. 
 Fine-art photography is a very small world associated with galleries, museums, and university art programs. It’s not like rock music; the products of this world have never been widely seen because the artists are often exploring things that are not already coded in general consciousness. It’s not that photographers don’t want to be famous, it’s just that very few of the views from the edges of culture make the mainstream. Ansel Adams was an exception. 
 I am not much interested in discovering new territories to photograph. Instead, what I wish my pictures could do is lessen the distance one often feels when looking at landscape photographs... The longer I work, the more important it is to me to make photographs that tell my story as a participant, and not just an observer of the land. 
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