About

Contact me at oboylephoto@gmail.com

This website is dedicated to work done since 2015 in the Arctic on a Guggenheim Photography Fellowship, and in the Antarctic with the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. 

This work looks at the present as the direct result of the complex and chaotic human and natural histories that have gone before. It's a perspective that sees the landscape as an ongoing process of change on both a geologic and cultural scale. The present physical environment is seen as both an inherited and manufactured landscape, where human activity and energy are realized through architecture and other cultural objects and artifacts. This extends to the generational process that occurs as structures age, and this energy is transformed, dissipating into the landscape. This can be seen as environments going from a lower to a higher state of entropy, their complexity increasing over time. 

All photographs on this website © Shaun O'Boyle, all rights reserved.All photographs are available as prints. Visit my main website is at www.new.oboylephoto.com

I traveled to Antarctica twice with the National Science Foundation in 2015 and 2017 as part of their Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. The Arctic work in Svalbard and Iceland is ongoing, and is part of a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography project. 

Guggenheim: In April, 2017 I was named a Guggenheim Fellow in Photography, a great honor which has allowed me to take my work into the field to locations out of reach before. Essentially my Guggenheim project is looking at how the artifacts of history have shaped the present landscapes of the Arctic regions, looking at these regions as cultural landscapes with a long human history. As the Guggenheim project has progressed I’ve found that the artifacts on the landscape in Svalbard, Norway (the original location of this project) are very concentrated in the old Russian mining regions, and other mining locations around Longyearbyen. Interesting locations, and I spent a lot of time photographing these sites. I had hoped to find pieces of other early activities, such as the 19th century Polar expeditions (Andree’s failed attempt to fly a hydrogen balloon to the North Pole is one example), early hunter/explorers, early science expeditions, and  places where walrus and whales were hunted. These turned out to be very dispersed, hard (and very expensive) to get to, and not very interesting visually. There isn't enough of the built environment left to build a visual narrative of those events. I looked in other regions of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic and settled on Iceland as another location with a long history, with sagas and myths, and it remarkable volcanic landscape which has been lived on and farmed for 1200 years. It’s a landscape where artifacts from the agrarian past can be found (although you have to work hard to find them), which is still alive today in areas away from Reykjavik. Other 19th and 20th century sites are there to find, places where fisherman lived in crude huts made of black volcanic rock and rowed out onto the rough waters to fish the rich seas. Shells of houses in desolate fishing towns. Old factories used to process fish on a commercial scale. The remarkable barren landscape near the Arctic Circle. The landscape itself has many stories attached to it through the saga stories and myths, mountains where giants live, and where the faces of trolls can still be seen frozen in the volcanic rock. Many landscape feature were sacred to pagan era Icelanders, such as a mountain associated with Thor the thunder god (Mt. Helgafell), where it was believe the soul would enter on death. I’ll be adding photographs from a second trip to Iceland soon, so look for those soon. 

Book: My book Modern Ruins: Portraits of Place in the Mid-Atlantic Region was published in 2010 by Penn State University Press. The book includes photographs of steel mills, institutions, coal mining, and Bannerman’s Arsenal on Pollepel Island on the Hudson River, an introduction by Geoff Manaugh, and brief essays by noted historians Curt Miner, Kenneth Warren, Kenneth Wolensky, and Thomas Lewis who offer social and historical contexts for the photographs in the book.

My photographs have been featured in a number of books, magazines and websites including Smithsonian Magazine's Years Best Photographs (Dec 2017); Smithsonian Magazine article Nightmare on the Ice by author Kim Stanley Robinson (Dec 2017);  Photo District News, October 2017 article titled Science-Focused Artist Residencies on the Rise; Lenswork #77 2008 (cover and feature on Bethlehem Steel); George Barr's Why Photographs Work; Brooks Jensen's Looking at Images; 2012 issue of Loupe; EXIT magazine (Spain); Dylan Trigg’s The Aesthetics of Decay; The Next American City issue twelve; Weird NJ - photographs in multiple issues; and a number of other magazines and album covers.

I have photographed, designed and self-published eight different books including Bethlehem Steel, The Boatyard, Bazaar, Kennedy Space Center, The Asylum, Rail Lines and Housatonic River available here.

My photographs are featured on LenscultureArt Photo Index, my website new.oboylephoto.com, photo blogs at oboylephoto.com/blog and popantarctica.wordpress.com, on instagram @ soboyle. The Antarctica project blog is linked above on this site. 

 Trekking on the Foxfonna Glacier in Svalbard

Trekking on the Foxfonna Glacier in Svalbard