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Torchia was inspired by Tucson's desert environment to create images of live blooming cacti on the walls of the gallery using 20 lenses. In this piece, viewers are surrounded by huge projections of small cacti and experience the flowers of these plants as tiny pollinating insects might. In addition, the multiplication of images by the lenses approximates the multi-faceted vision of insects.

The blooming cacti are replaced daily and may change appearance throughout each day. Since the cactus blossoms open in the morning and close in the evening, the installation refers to the concept of time-lapse photography.

Activities: Considering scale and motion in photography

  1. Discuss ways in which photography plays with scale.
    1. For instance, a postcard-size presentation of the Grand Canyon. Or, larger-than-life billboard images of a famous person with a milk mustache. What effect do these changes in scale have upon our experience of places or people? Do they diminish experience or magnify it? Do they make it scarier or more inviting? Do the changes in scale make us think differently about the people and places in the photograph? How?
    2. Talk about creating an insect's view of the world with photographs. Refer to the exhibition and how the students, as viewers, were drawn to the piece just as insects are drawn instinctively to colorful blossoms. How do point of view and scale help create an insect's view of the world? An insect's eyes are multi-faceted, allowing it to see in several directions at once. How does this relate to what you see in Desert Bloom?
    3. Discuss what happens when an object is taken out of context, such as the cacti appearing in Desert Bloom. Or, a photograph of the Grand Canyon for someone who has never visited that natural wonder. Would the person viewing the Grand Canyon in a photograph feel as foreign to the scene as we feel when looking at images of the moon?
  2. Ask your students to bring photographs to class that deal with motion. These can be snapshots or images found in magazines or books.
    1. Discuss how motion is conveyed in each image: sequence, blur, pose, stop-action.
    2. Discuss types of motion that happen around us everyday that we do not think about or consciously notice: the motion of blood coursing through our veins; the earth hurling through space; evaporation of water all round us; our own growth; air currents in the classroom.
    3. Next discuss how time influences our perception of motion. For instance, watching the sunset and thinking about why it happens; feeling our pulse; photographing a person repeatedly over the years to document growth and the passing of time. We must slow down and observe carefully in order to experience these things.


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