An Interview with Nick Pedersen on His Post-Apocalyptic Series “Ultima”

After years of focused work, Nick Pedersen’s impressive three-part series Ultima is complete. We’ve been fascinated by the environmentally rooted work of the Philadelphia-based multimedia artist for years, immersing ourselves in his hyper-detailed digital collages which feature a post-apocalyptic world reeling from the impact of mankind’s influence.

Ultima I: “Path of the Ancients”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 4

Ultima I: “Path of the Ancients” detail
Nick Pedersen Ultima 4 detail

In Ultima, each of Pedersen’s imaginative landscapes depict a future where unfamiliar cultures battle for survival as nature reclaims the Earth. A different future scenario was envisioned for each edition of the series, taking us from a world overtaken with verdant jungle, to one in perpetual winter, and finally to one cooked dry by the hot sun.

Thoroughly interesting to examine in detail, each image also challenges us to consider the future we are building with modern choices.

Ultima I: “Remnants of Time”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 5

Ultima will be unveiled in Salt Lake City, Pedersen’s home town, at Copper Palate Press on August 21st. The exhibition will feature a selection of large-scale prints, as well as the release of a limited-edition artist book featuring the entire 36 image series.

Below, we catch up with Nick Pedersen to talk about the creative process that brought this project to life, and what he may be doing next.

Ultima II: “Dancing Spirits”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 7

Ultima II: “Dancing Spirits” detail
Nick Pedersen Ultima 7 detail

VN: The completion of your series Ultima has been years in the making. What have you learned about your craft during that journey?

NP: It has been quite a journey. Working on this project over the past three years has taken me across the United States, photographing everything from the remote deserts of the Southwest to the sprawling cities on the East Coast. It has also taken me abroad, including artist-residencies in Canada and Iceland, to capture all the images I needed to complete this body of work.

I think what really brought my vision to life was actually traveling to these far flung places to photograph the dramatic landscapes used in this project. For example, in Iceland I spent many freezing winter nights trying to find and capture the Northern Lights, and in the end it definitely paid off with my own original photographs of the auroras to use in my work.

So, I think the main thing I learned from this project was patience. Having a detailed plan, doing research, and really taking the time to create something you care strongly about made a huge difference. By gathering the best images like this together for source material and then meticulously piecing everything together, I was able to finally complete the entire 3-part series.

Ultima II: “Voices in the Ice”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 6

VN: Your work is has its roots in photography and digital imaging. How does printmaking change your experience of it?

NP: Almost all of this project was created by capturing images with a camera, then spending a great deal of time working on a computer and seeing it come together through a screen. That’s why it was so nice to finally see the large-scale editions I printed because it made the work tactile, and really brought it into the world as a physical artwork. It was great to see all the small details in each of the large framed prints, and then to fully view them all together in the gallery as a whole series.

Along with the gallery work, I also published a limited-edition artist book, and it was amazing to see this entire project collected together in one sequential narrative. It is such a good feeling to finally get this long-term project out into the world as a series of books and fine art prints.

Ultima III: “Fallen Kingdom”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 8

Ultima III: “Fallen Kingdom” detail
Nick Pedersen Ultima 8 detail

VN: So, what’s next, or is it too early to ask?

NP: I don’t think I’ll be taking on another huge project anytime soon, but I am excited to start experimenting with some new ideas and different processes.

Right now I’m working on some underwater city images of New York to raise awareness for climate change, and I have a lot of other thoughts for new environmental projects in the works. I would also like to test out some different concepts, such as making images that are more dreamlike, surreal, and less tied to reality.

Another goal I have is to experiment with moving my imagery into video, and possibly making a film sometime in the future. In any case I am excited to keep trying out new things and progressing with my work.

Ultima III: “Surrounded by Eternity”
Nick Pedersen Ultima 9

To purchase prints, or a copy of Nick Pedersen’s limited-edition Ultima artist book featuring the entire 36 image series, see his shop.

Nick Pedersen Ultima 1

Nick Pedersen Ultima 2

Share this Story