Stephen Wilkes, A Witness to Change
“Day to Night” is an ongoing global photographic project that visualizes an entire day in one image. Stephen Wilkes here photographs from a fixed perspective from dawn until night, capturing myriad moments in extraordinary locations around the world. While the earth rotates on its axis, Wilkes’ camera absorbs the changes in light and color, exploring the space-time continuum within astonishing two-dimensional still photographs.
The aestheticized historical documents that began in New York ten years ago have led Wilkes further afield, taking his practice literally out into the world as his focus has shifted from fast-paced cityscapes to the rapidly changing natural environment. This recently took him as far away as to Iceland, Africa, and the wilds of Bella Coola, British Columbia, where climate change has left the rivers hotter and drier, leading to fewer fish for grizzly bears to feed on. Recently on site in Greenland, Wilkes worked to capture the historic glacier melt for his newest Day to Night photograph.
From capturing cities and natural parks to wildlife and endangered species, it has become the artist’s mission in recent years to extend a heightened and humane awareness of global climate change, particularly its effects on species beyond our own.
The “Day to Night” series began as an expression of a lifelong love affair with New York City. Early photographs from the series are a visual celebration of iconic locations, like Coney Island, and soon became something of an historical document as New York continued its furious and perpetual metamorphosis. This capturing of a moment of a symbolic city in flux connects Wilkes with the advent of photography and the heroic artist-inventors of the mid-19th century.