Telluride Arts HQ Gallery  |  April & May 2018

Is This Water?

Living in this increasingly digitized and modernized world, we often spend our days mindlessly looking, without truly seeing. Is This Water? is an intervention; it is an effort in the meditative practice of seeing.

David Foster Wallace opened his 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College titled, “This is Water,” with a parable of two fish who were so wrapped up in their own existences, that they failed to recognize the simple fact of the water around them. He continued, “the most obvious and important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see.” I take it to heart that we are, in fact, the fish. With Is This Water? I attempt to reframe how we go about visualizing our day-to-day lives. The photographic genre of Interpretive Landscape and the tools of abstraction beckon the photographer and viewer to manifest Wallace’s ideas of consciously choosing what to see and how to find joy.

Just as a sweeping landscape photograph is majestic and impressive, so are the big, extraordinary moments in life. And yet, what if we viewed the every day with such attention, contemplation, and wonder? The ordinary occurrences of nature can offer us something immensely intimate and creative. Take a look around you.

Is This Water? invites us to see differently, to see more—and possibly even, to make meaning.

Note: Many of the images in this installation were photographed here in Telluride, Colorado.


Austin Halpern is a fine art photographer captivated by nature’s abstract splendor. With a camera in his hands, Austin says he has become attentive to little miracles like the colors reflected in moving water at dusk and the way street lights glow upon asphalt after it rains. Austin is constantly framing images in his head. The basic elements, shutter speed and aperture, have become his tools for distilling time, encompassing moments, and projecting emotion. With his camera, Austin strives to inspire vision, newness, and contemplation amidst the natural world.

Born in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, Austin is a 19-year-old sophomore at Colorado College and a part-time resident of Telluride. Primarily self-taught, he has taken classes with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and plans to spend his summer working and learning photography at the Maine Media Workshops. Austin photographs for the Catalyst Newspaper and has freelanced in a variety of genres. His work has been featured in numerous private collections and has been displayed at Kingdom Homebuilders Bridgeport. This is Austin’s first solo exhibition.