Exodus

Moving to Atlanta from Detroit in 2006, I was immediately struck by the pace of growth in the area. I knew I had to make work that addressed this issue, but I also wanted to avoid rehashing the architectural imagery of new home construction that often defines urban sprawl. Instead, the images in this series were created using motion sensor cameras placed in two cities lying approximately 20 miles northeast of Atlanta: Suwanee, which has seen its population nearly double from 8,725 to 15,355 in the last ten years (1) and Buford, now home to the largest shopping mall in Georgia and the 14th largest in the United States. It is an area very much on the frontlines of urban sprawl in America (2). Recently, I have focused the work on a 44-acre property in Suwanee that has been put up for sale. I was in shock when the property first went up for sale because I knew it to be a dense ecosystem of Georgia wildlife and also one of the last sizable chunks of land in the area. After receiving permission from the owner, I started placing two to three cameras in the forest at a time to document the animals living there before the property sells. The placement of the cameras was entirely intuitive. While I originally paid great attention to tracks in the forest, hoping to get quicker results, I now place the cameras randomly, paying more attention to the aesthetics of the scene. I often feel as though I am setting the stage for an event that I will not be present to see.

The cameras themselves are essentially camouflaged, waterproof casings with a motion sensor and a 35mm instamatic film camera inside. The images they produce, although sharp, are distinct from more advanced systems used by wildlife photographers to capture rare and endangered animals. This difference is important because, aside from liking the snapshot quality of the images they produce, I am also employing the same tools that hunters use to survey areas for game. Like the hunter, the camera functions as an intruder in the forest. The flash illuminates the night, revealing the creatures we know are there but rarely see. In this way, the photographs allow the viewer to form a relationship with the animals with which we share our own backyards and give an identity to the real victims of urban sprawl.

 

(1) "City of Suwanee Facts & Figures," accessed June 10, 2011, http://www.suwanee.com/economicdevelopment.factsfigures.php

(2) FAO, More people than ever are victims of hunger, 2009, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Press Release, June 2009.

Contributor's Biography

Matthew Moore received an MFA degree in 2009 from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia where he was awarded the Ernest G. Welch Graduate Photography Award in 2007 and the Chandler Award in 2006. He received a BFA degree in 2000 from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan. After completing his BFA Matthew moved to the Czech Republic for two years. Since that time, he has returned there frequently to exhibit work and lecture, most recently at Prague College and Univerzita J. E. Purkyne. In 2002, Matthew became a regular contributor to Hour Detroit Magazine, and his 2004 documentary "A Tale of Two Cities" won a silver medal for Best Photo Essay from the City and Regional Magazine Association. Other editorial clients include Detroit Home Magazine, XXL and Mass Appeal. In addition to his editorial work, Matthew has also taught photography at several institutions and universities including Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan and Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. He currently lives in Baltimore where he is an instructor of photography and coordinator of the photography program at Anne Arundel Community College. For more of his work, please visit http://www.moorephotographs.com

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