Moving Mountains (1850–2012) considers an analog history of photography within the digital torrent that is its current technological manifestation. Penelope Umbrico steadies her focus on the mountain: oldest subject, stable object, immovable landmark, site of orientation, place of spiritual contemplation. The mountain, the photographer, the book—these are the masters. Umbrico employs smartphone camera apps to make new photographs of the images of mountains that appear in the Aperture Masters of Photography books. The artist states: “Pointing my iPhone down at these mountains, the hallucinogenic effects of the camera apps’s filters blend with the disorienting effects of the iPhone’s gravity sensor. My mountains are unstable, mobile, changing with each iteration, re-mastered. Here is the biggest distance, the longest range. I present a dialogue between distance and proximity, limited and unlimited, the singular and the multiple, the fixed and the moving, the master and the copy. I propose an inverse correlation between the number of photographs that exist of mountains at any one time, and the stability of photography at that time.” A print installation and limited-edition book component of Moving Mountains (1850–2012) was initially created on the occasion of Aperture’s sixtieth anniversary as part of Aperture Remix—an artist commission and exhibition. For this project, a select group of contemporary photographers were invited to choose an Aperture publication and to pay it artistic homage. Penelope Umbrico chose to work with the Aperture Masters of Photography series; this ebook iteration is another iteration of the work she created as part of that project.
Penelope Umbrico (born in Philadelphia, 1957) graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. Umbrico is core faculty in the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Program. She lives in New York City.