Abstracted Forms and Natural Highs in the work of Aerial Photographer Andres G. De la Vega
Writer Rosanna Robertson
Images Andres G. De la Vega
Located in Baja California Sur, Andres G. De la Vega finds himself at the westernmost point of Mexico. A small strip of land with sea on both sides, Baja Sur runs parallel to the Mexican mainland – separated from it by the Gulf of California. With mountain ranges and coastal plains, the peninsula takes various and dramatic forms, with forested and mountainous highlands, lagoons that double as calving pools for the grey whale, and deserts that come to life during the short and erratic rainy season. Summers reach 40°C and winters drop below freezing, and so its inhabitants are connected to, and affected by, their environment in a way that those in more temperate, stable climes are not.
Creating formal yet energetic images, Andres De la Vega photographs this landscape, capturing its moods and documenting its stories. Having worked in the entertainment industry, De la Vega approaches photography with the same sense of scale and narrative, yet the landscape takes centre stage, not simply a backdrop or a tool for exposition.
As an aerial photographer De la Vega embraces technology as part of his process, employing a drone to explore and navigate. The drone puts the photographer at a remove from his subject – distanced, remote almost, from the scene itself. Rather than surveying with his own eye – gathering additional information in the periphery and experiencing the sense of scale, or danger, or vertigo for himself – De la Vega can observe and contemplate as shapes, colours and compositions appear in his viewfinder. Form already abstracted.
Clean and direct, the viewer has an intuitive understanding of the subject – yet there is a painterly quality to De la Vega’s photographs which is more akin to abstract art than the painters of landscape – Turner, Constable, Monet. The images are crisp yet poetic, as De la Vega astutely locates the point between misty nostalgia and high-definition.
The movement of the ocean, with its unruly and unrelenting rhythms, remains present in De la Vega’s photographs. Rather than capturing moments of stillness, these images have a cinematic quality – the wave will crest and crash, the sun will rise, then fall…
Living in Acapulco, De la Vega spent his childhood by, on and in the sea, and the jewel-toned magnitude of the ocean makes for an alluring muse. From his perspective – in the air, looking down – we can appreciate the ocean’s depth rather than its vastness. Without looking up and around – with no horizon over which we can imagine travelling – we must travel down, beneath the sun-spattered surface, past the seafoam and through the depths.
A survey of the organising principles of the world – both natural and man-made – De la Vega also documents human interactions with nature; surfers, too small to see in detail, are dotted across the surface of the sea, specs of humanity against the immense backdrop of the ocean. A tarmac road curves around a huddle of trees, fencing them in, keeping them in place – for the time being. Traffic drifts towards a low, generous sun – or flows in formation around an equally generous roundabout. Reverberating with life, these cityscapes explore how nature interacts with culture, offering a more symbiotic interpretation.
The drone has a transformative effect – the things we think we know, we see again. When viewed from above, houses become flat planes of colour, geometric configurations of roof tiles and air conditioning units. Trees take the form of a starburst, striving toward you rather than towering above. Roads and paths become lines – small, decorative marks against the overall scene. A humbling reminder that nature shapes us – forcing us in one direction or another, permitting certain interventions and denying others: we simply float on nature’s surface, heading in the direction that it decides to take us.
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