Orbis Tertius

In his new work Orbis Tertius, Adam Ryder presents a series of composite images claiming to be archival documentary photographs of architecture in and around the Holy Land during the tumultuous 1920’s.

A Q&A with Adam Ryder:

Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Originally I’m from Northern Virginia, right outside DC. I just moved from Bedstuy to Bushwick in Brooklyn, both are fantastic neighborhoods.

This series is titled Orbis Tertius after the Borges story Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. How did the story inspire these photographs?
In Borges’ short story, “Orbis Tertius” is the name of an intellectual conspiracy between various circles of academia to falsify the existence of a Middle Eastern realm known as “Uqbar.” By creating my own false ephemera in the form of archival photographs and graphics, I am engaging in a sort of one man conspiracy to weave a fictional past, one which also happens to be middle-eastern.

What is the Joint Photographic Survey?
The Joint Photographic Survey is the fictitious agency through which my images gain the authority of the historical document. The Survey is a supposed cooperative effort between the British Mandate for Palestine and the Emirate of Transjordan, both real territories in the 1920’s that were administered by the British Crown. In creating images for this project, I sourced the publicly-available archive of the “American Colony in Jerusalem,” whose photographs served as an aesthetic template for my incursions into the historical record and inspired the creation of the Joint Photographic Survey.

How did you create these images?
The Library of Congress website has an incredible database of high-resolution images which are searchable by keyword and collection. For various reasons, this database is comprised of humorously specific collections of images, one of them being the photographic record of the American Colony in Jerusalem in the 1920’s. I’ve utilized this collection as well as images from several others to create digital composites from the architectural ruins and barren landscapes of the Holy Land and surrounding territories. This has required many hours of sifting through thousands of images and scouring them for architecturally similar elements that I recombined using photographic editing software.

Each photograph has a number of subtle details. Can you point out a few of your favorites?
One of my images, which looks a bit like the well-known “Treasury” of Petra in Jordan has a small detail I’m quite fond of. Meandering its way up a steep rocky path, you can see a very small horse laden with cargo. I like to put these small details in, I’m very drawn the tiny details in images.

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?
Hmm, perhaps that I like to fly fish when I have the chance. I feel like not a lot of thirty-something New York people do that. Maybe I’m wrong, I just never see it, you know?

These original photographs are framed and matted with an “authentic” Joint Photographic Survey stamp. The series is available to Uprise members through our subscribe-to-own service; bring home artwork today and simply pay $50/month until you own it. Not a member? JOIN HERE.