In a few images, specifically from the Places and Realms series, one can’t help but envision cryptic aerial views of places unknown or dreamscapes. As they are totally abstract, one is left to consider the pictures’ formal elements and decipher from what planet — or universe — these digitized landscapes came. The horizontal formats and generic labeling of the series naturally suggest landscape.
The most direct reference to something recognizable — and intentionally so — is seen in Dots No. 19, in which Morse has included an Alexander Calder-like mobile. “Calder was a terrific designer and engineer,” Morse said. “I had the privilege of seeing a retrospective of his work in Rome in 2009, and the work stuck with me. The dot idea came from seeing a number of fragmented, old-fashioned billboards in Rome in which the graphic quality of the printing process revealed a matrix of dots to make up the images. The latter part of the Dots series is an homage to Calder.”
Born in Bedford, New York, Morse visited Santa Fe in the summer of 1979 and fell in love with its ambience and “saw the possibilities of living in a creative community.” He moved here permanently the following year. By day, Morse is an attorney working in mediation and collaborative practice. At night — and on most weekends — his artistic endeavors take center stage. He received his Master of Fine Arts in experimental and extended photography from the Visual Studies Workshop at the State University of New York in Rochester, where he worked with Nathan and Nancy Lyons, but he is self-taught in digital technology. His work is held in a number of private and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. In 1977, he received a photography fellowship from the Massachusetts Arts and Humanities Foundation.
Some may question the use of the term “originals” in the title as antithetical to digital imaging. But Morse argued, “I use the digital process as an original printmaking medium — not for reproduction as is so often the case with giclées. Nor do I use the medium as a digital darkroom. I take photographic detritus and transform it. I set off in a certain direction but let the creative winds guide my voyage rather than any preconceived ideas or marketing plans. I work very fast and leave no bread crumbs behind to find my way back.”