Cutting The Edge: Scott Hazard
Scott Hazard’s work is underscored by a deceptively simple thoughtfulness. At first glance, it’s rather straightforward, even unsophisticated, and yet it begs of the eye more time than expected. In his torn and layered photographs, quotidian landscapes are disrupted by ersatz portals, ripping an entryway into the side of an abandoned building, a garage door, the sky. An astute contemplation on our relationship to immediate surroundings, the images have the perplexing draw of something both provocative and quirky.
Hazard, who grew up in California, studied landscape architecture as an undergraduate. He cites Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson, and Vito Acconci as primary influences, and seeks to foster, as he puts it, a similar “dialogue with the environment.” The intent comes across strongly in his photographs that gently, and yet so successfully, distort pastoral and urban settings into surrealist musings. “I [want] to define a physical space as well as articulate the mental and conceptual properties or atmosphere of that space,” Hazard says.
Achieving the feeling is largely dependent on his choice of materials. They delineate the organic quality of his work, creating a link between the fabricated portal and the actual photograph. “I favor materials common to the building and construction industries,” he says, “[mainly] wood and paper. I enjoy working with paper. It is an innocuous material. It is everywhere and not always noticed or appreciated, but its capabilities are essential. It is a key player in the transmittal of ideas.”
Such quiet value seems a motif in the work. The artist frequently draws from the aesthetics and philosophies of gardens—their sedate beauty, their urgency to bring people into the outdoors. “An interest in Japanese gardens…along with sculptural forms found in nature and the built environment provide a desire to create small crafted, intimate spaces in my work that function much like gardens for the mind,” he explains.
The images have that effect; they inspire an introspection, a harmony between content and context, between self and milieu. Out of immobile and often prosaic photography, Hazard’s portals create a full rumination on the ways we move in and view space, calling into question the distinction between photo and sculpture, and, ultimately, the limitations between two and three dimensionality. “Ideally the work functions [as both],” Hazard says. “The viewer looks at and into the image.”
This dual mode of regarding the work baffles onlookers. It’s perhaps what keeps the eye lingering. In a sense, Hazard’s photo constructions turn the passive act of looking into an active, tangible experience. Imposing layers on one’s environment adds a depth, an inwardness that we frequently miss in our natural and constructed domains. “I love the notion of tearing a hole in one reality only to find another, very similar reality right behind the first one,” the artist says. Despite what resemblance we might find, Hazard reminds us that the humdrum backdrops are worth a second look.
Scott’s WILD Wish: To keep making work along with engaging everything else in life.