About David Stephenson
David Stephenson is an American-born photographic and video artist who has lived in Hobart, Australia since 1982. He studied art and art history at the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico, completing an MFA in 1982, and then moved to Australia that same year to take up a position teaching photography at the University of Tasmania. A fascination for the vast in space and time has led him to travel and photograph extensively around the world, with journeys to Europe, the Himalayas, and both the Arctic and Antarctic. His second visit to Antarctica in 1991 stimulated his first exhibited work in video, which has continued to be an important aspect of his practice.
A meditation on the sublime has guided Stephenson’s artistic practice over four decades, which has evolved through long-term, interrelated projects of inquiry. His photographic typologies of the transcendent ceilings of European sacred architecture have been published in two monographs with Princeton Architectural Press, with German editions by Prestel Verlag – Visions of Heaven: The Dome in European Architecture (2005) and Heavenly Vaults: From Romanesque to Gothic in European Architecture (2009).
While travelling for these architectural projects Stephenson made his first photographs of cities at night, bringing together a number of his previous interests, including the idea of the sublime, environmental concerns, and the transcendental power of light. The glowing “light city” seems the perfect emblem of so much that is both good and bad in our industrialized culture: an extraordinary example of a monumental technological sublime, where awe, beauty, and human aspiration are tinged with the horror of potential environmental catastrophe, our engine of modernity seemingly running on empty.
A focus of Stephenson's work from 2010 to 2017 was his collaboration with Martin Walch on the Derwent Project, which developed new digital approaches to the representation of complex and remote environments. A major exhibition of this project was presented at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in July-November 2017. An overview of the Derwent Project and samples of their multichannel video works can be viewed on the Derwent Project website: www.derwent-project.org.
Since 2014 Stephenson has been creating time-lapse images and videos drawn from both urban and natural environments. Using programming developed during the Derwent Project, these have been computationally composited to create still images (Time Scans) and videos (Nature Lovers).
Stephenson’s photographs and video have been exhibited extensively internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1993 and 2017), the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (1994), the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland (1995), the National Gallery of Victoria, (1998), the Cleveland Museum of Art (2001), and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2001 and 2017). His work is represented in many public and private collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.