Mark Thayer | Artist Statements

Seascape Series
From the Shore

This seascape series began in January of 2014. I live on the north shore of Massachusetts, within sight of the ocean, and I’ve spent many hundreds of hours patrolling the New England coastline, observing and discovering the personalities of its many beaches and rocky shores. The weather, the tide, and the terrain all play a part in how that interaction between land, sea and atmosphere displays itself. Remarkably, even with all those variables, each spot exhibits a unique character.

No other zone on earth so clearly conveys the pulse of our living planet. To stand at the edge of the sea, feeling the tug of a receding wave, is to have a finger on that pulse. This boundary layer, this ecotone, gives life to a third, and wholly mesmerizing, environment. The shore exerts is influence over the ocean openly and often flamboyantly as it trips each successive swell, while the sea molds sand and stone with a (sometimes only marginally) more patient hand.

One goal of these images is to reveal the relationship between wet an dry that goes deeper than an all-encompassing landscape. I search for personality traits, quirks, and tells that are peculiar to each seaside locale without ignoring the vastness to which it is connected.

Another more personal goal is to share my lifelong love for these places. I’ve played in the surf as a kid and later with my own kids. I’ve been soothed by it’s calm and humbled by it’s strength. We all have witnessed the incredible power of the ocean, yet I am often more impressed by it’s subtleties and little surprises. I still get a powerful sense of anticipation and a little adrenaline spike every time I approach the coast. Some of it comes from my expectation of new photographs and the rest from somewhere more primal.


Laundromat Series
Private Parts

Privacy is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, usually associated with information on the internet. Social media has inspired a cross-generational group of users to share private details of their lives with word and image as never before. Corporations collect increasingly private information about individuals at an unprecedented rate. I however have been more interested lately in the old-school kind of privacy. The kind that's about living your life in the physical world outside the view of others.

For 21 years I lived in a house with, for the most part, no other houses in sight. I had become accustomed to living every aspect of my life without fear of being observed. Recently I moved to a more urban setting with large older homes sitting in very close proximity to one another and my opinion of blinds, shades and curtains changed dramatically. My definition of privacy underwent an update. Over time I decided that I was willing to be seen by passersby doing certain tasks in my home but not others. In addition to the obvious, I decided folding underwear fell into the private category.

These thoughts rekindled an old interest in laundromats. I've always been intrigued by the fact that laundromats so frequently have floor to ceiling glass exterior walls, especially the stand-alone variety. It's almost a rule. Who decided that was a good way to go when designing a place to wash and fold your undergarments? During the day these establishments feel nondescript and utilitarian and blend quite effectively into the rest of the suburban and urban landscapes. Once the sun goes down however they can feel both lonely and cozy at the same time. They become little glowing stages where people act out one of the more mundane but also intimate tasks of daily life.

While some people seem almost embarrassed by the process and the lack of privacy, others turn it into a social event. They bring the kids and grandma and the weekly wash becomes an outing to be enjoyed. For people who don't need laundromats, they can seem to fit into some nostalgic niche and the architectural style often reinforces that perception. For those that need and use laundromats, there's nothing nostalgic about them.

Laundromats at night fall into what I call the "aquarium in a dark room effect." After sunset, people inside are unable to see most of what's outside the building. They are literally on display for anyone passing by. For the most part they are oblivious to this fact, or they are aware of it and just don't really care. City busses fall into this category as well. At night no one on the buscan see what's outside yet those outside bothering to look will see a remarkable little play (anda traveling one at that) going on inside. As an observer, having knowledge of the one-way glasseffect adds a voyeuristic aspect to the scene.

Everyone has their own definition of privacy, and whether it be virtual or physical, those views are constantly evolving.


ND 0.90 Series

To the photographers among you, the name of this series will probably make sense. To those of you not familiar with the term, it simply refers to a filter required when shooting long exposures in brightly lit situations. All images in this series are shot with long lenses at long exposures.

Much of my work over the past few years has been an exploration of interfaces between environments and objects within those environments, and the manner in which they interact. The interface between air, water and shore is one of constant tension as each environment exerts its influence over the others. Witnessing this interaction can be exhilarating, intimidating, calming and inspirational. The water in these images can seem calm, violent, soft, sharp, dark and bright, sometimes containing contradictory traits. I see in these images a correlation with human emotion. Emotions never exist in a vacuum; they are always colored by others. Exhilaration can be accompanied by trepidation, fear by excitement, calm by underlying tension, or even joy by sadness. A photograph has the power to capture many conflicting states for our inspection and reflection.