Television screens in trees may seem unusual, but for junior Nevan Swanson, it was just part of the artistic process. Titled “Screens,” Swanson’s summer photography project aims to explore associations with screens, their content and their environment. The project is currently on display in the Edwards Center for Art and Dance.

Over the course of the project, Swanson recorded videos on his family’s old camcorder once used for home movies, treating it as a “visual diary.” He played the videos on television screens in different locations, which he photographed by either freezing certain frames or doing long exposures.

Through the images, he attempts to show a layering of time and the overlap of moments that took place in the past as they may appear in the present.

“Life in the present can be different because of the context,” Swanson said.

Swanson took his photos with a medium-format film camera, which allowed him to create high quality images without the comfort and immediacy of a digital camera. The images were shot primarily in Maine—around Lisbon Falls, Brunswick and Bar Harbor—and also in his home in Connecticut. 

At the start of the project, Swanson was unsure of what direction to take and was driven to try a variety of options. 

“I was trying to experiment as much as I could with what I wanted to do, the types of pictures I wanted to take and how I wanted to take them,” Swanson said. This opportunity was both rare and valuable.

According to Swanson, the freedom to experiment was liberating. 

“I can’t do that all the time here. I don’t have the ability to break away from one certain idea and just go off on that idea for a long time.”

Swanson received the Patterson Research Fellowship last year, which supports student research over the summer months. The funds allowed him to spend his summer in Maine pursuing an independent photography project under the mentorship of Associate Professor of Art Michael Kolster.

Charlotte Youkilis contributed to this report.