Alexander Diaz is an Associate Professor of Photography at the University of North Florida. Diaz’s artwork is a marriage of documentary photography and conceptual art. He utilizes photography to express his concerns and to comment on environmental issues, consumerism, religion, and the particulars of place. His work has been exhibited at many institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art/Jacksonville, Norton Museum of Art, and Mobile Museum of Art.
Beneath the Surface
Florida, once considered wild and exotic, has evolved into a place of conformity and monotony. The Florida landscape has been tamed and transformed over the years to accommodate the numerous people visiting and moving to the Sunshine state. Countless acres of natural habitat have been destroyed and replaced with kitschy theme parks, sprawling developments and spaces unworthy of human affection.
Despite the fact that much of paradise has been paved over, there are still signs of Florida’s past natural grandeur. Not far from gated communities, strip malls, and tourist traps are crystal clear waters that spew from underground caves to create springs of immense beauty. These timeless fountains of water provide a reprieve from civilization and the visual consequences of modern development. During the summer months, hordes of tourists and locals flock to the springs to immerse themselves in these rejuvenating waters. The springs can be chaotic on the surface with people splashing and screaming, but they are starkly different underwater. Sounds are muffled, movement is slowed, all is ambiguous, and nothing is ordinary below the surface. Submerging myself in these springs is to enter another world and to escape reality. People seem to be magically gliding through space, and life poetically unfolds for all to see; it’s quite a spectacle. Humanity appears to be in sync with nature, but this fantasy quickly dissolves once I return to the surface and I am confronted by reality. Visiting these enchanted waters remind me of what used to be and what is missing from our daily lives, which is a sense of wonder and connection with the natural world. It saddens me to reflect on how Florida has been transformed over the years, but it is reassuring to know that there are still fragments of paradise that still exist.
To view more of Alexander’s work please visit their website.