FotoFest Exhibitions

Christina Seely


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Christina Seely’s series Lux (2005-2010), titled after the system for measuring illumination, examines the disconnect between the immense beauty created by human-made light emanating from the earth’s surface and the environmental impact of the carbon dioxide produced by the world’s wealthiest countries, evident in the brightest areas detected on a satellite map. The three regions most visible in NASA images are the United States, Western Europe, and Japan, which together emit approximately forty-five percent of the world’s CO2 and, along with China, are the top consumers of electricity. This body of work focuses on Seely’s imagery of the cities in the United States: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. Eventually, Lux will comprise photographs of the forty-three brightest cities in the world, but the project is less about the individual locations than their effective interchangeability and the global ramifications of consumption. Reflecting this, each photograph is titled simply Metropolis, accompanied by a notation of the city’s latitude and longitude. Seely’s photographs explore the realities of dealing with the infrastructure of these urban environments and their excessive energy consumption, but she consciously takes an indirect approach to the subject. “I am interested in the dialectic between the surface documentation of the photograph and the complex reality that lies beneath the surface,” she explains, “how beauty can suggest the simple and ideal while both subtly reflecting and obscuring a darker more complicated truth.”


Christina Seely is a photographer and professor based in the San Francisco Bay area. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is a part of many private and public collections including: The West Collection, Oaks, Pennsylvania; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC. She received her B.A. from Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota (1998) and her M.F.A. in photography from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence (2003). Seely is a member of the faculty of the California College of the Arts in Oakland/San Francisco in the photography department. She is also a principal member of Civil Twilight, a design collective whose Lunar Resonant Streetlights (streetlights that dim and brighten in correlation with the moon phases) won Metropolis Magazine’s, 2007 “Next Generation Design Competition”.