Looking at the tranquil photographs taken by Vancouver based philosophy graduate Nich Hance McElroy makes one ask oneself the age-old and head-scratching question: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Like the famous philosophical dilemma, McElroy’s photo series seeks knowledge of the unobserved, and does this through documenting undisturbed moments and spaces; places where sounds seem to cease to exist, where not even the clicking of McElroy’s shutter is able to penetrate into the hushed serenity of his compositions.
Entitled The Great Divide, McElroy’s photographs are of the things in-between: of fences, horizons, edges, and rivers, of the mysterious places where a city begins or a mountain comes to an end. With America, a land of divisions, as his backdrop, geographical divisions become figurative ones. Utility poles amongst a thick forest blanketed by snow suggest divisions between the natural world and humans, as does a young girl amongst a lonely, rolling landscape. Over and over, the photographs remind us that we are on the edge of something vast.
Other photographs document moments of mental transition; the mysterious shift from consciousness to dream. A girl dozing in the backseat of a car captures the lapse between sleep and wakefulness, that well-known moment when a sleepy traveller’s neck rolls forward before they awkwardly jolt awake.
McElroy photographs the spaces in time where two points meet, and the effect of his organic colours and textures, and wide-open vistas, is meditative and deeply calming. On his website he asks us, positing a new philosophical dilemma to add to the old one, “Where do things end up on either side of a wedge?” The series does not provide concrete answers, but it certainly bridges the divide between philosophy and photography.