“I’ve always been envious of painters’ abilities to shift reality in whichever direction they choose,” says Oakland-based photographer Terri Loewenthal. That fascination underpins Loewenthal’s “Psychscapes,” a series of magic-tinged, hallucinogenic images the artist first began experimenting with in 2013, eventually honing her concept four years later while shooting in California’s Eastern Sierra. The area’s otherworldly topography lent itself to her signature technique, in which she painstakingly tweaks a single exposure by overlapping multiple vantage points of the 360-degree surrounding environs and applies filters to shift colors.
How did you come up with the concept/inspiration for “Psychscapes”?
When I had the idea for these images, the only thing I knew is that I wanted to shift the natural world just enough to make it surreal, but still inviting. Nature has always been my refuge. When studying landscape, even before I discovered my current process, I was rarely drawn to make a literal document of nature. I’ve always been more interested in depicting the palette of a place than the place itself. The relationship between colors is endlessly fascinating to me and initially, I mostly daydreamed about toying with that dynamic.
My desire to push the boundaries of photography is also partly a reaction to the ubiquity of photographs today. I’ve been taking pictures for a long time. A few years back, I had a bout of feeling bored with making imagery and it caused a mild identity crisis. The only cure I could find was to make images that I was genuinely excited to look at, which meant they had to look completely different than anything else. I needed to deliberately engage in a process of discovery in order to deepen my relationship with what I was seeing.