Thursday, December 14, 2006

urban ku # 13 and an observation with a question

La Cage Aux Folles - Paddleboats at the Philadelphia Zoo. I hope no one is too disappointed that much of what has been published lately - mine and that of others - on The Landscapist has been from the "urban" side of the landscape genre. I haven't given up on the nature side, not by a long shot.

My gaze of late has turned to more of "man" in the Adirondacks simply because I am trying to create a more complete picture of the true nature of the Adirondack Park - yes, it is the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi (bigger than Vermont), but it is also a patch-quilt of public and private land - which is why I am able to live in a park.

the observation: But, that said, I have noticed something interesting as I plow through and down the information highway. Outside of the "traditional" nature photography forums, which tend to feature the pretty calender type photography of the landscape, there seems to be precious little new and different to discover in the "pure" landscape genre. Everywhere I look, I find photographic signs of man in the landscape.

the question: Has the traditional genre of landscape photography been shattered beyond reconstruction? Has it run its course? Is there nothing new to be said and seen?

Come on people, chime in on this one.

publisher's footnote: Thank the gods of technology for my stat counter - if I were publishing this blog based on the number of comments posted, I'd have left town long ago. Fortunately, the counter tells me that there are approximately 280 pages views a day - and rising, by approximately 185 unique visitors a day - and rising, with about 100 returning visitors a day - and rising.

Thus encouraged, I push ever forward.

FEATURED COMMENT: Toby Lloyd Jones wrote: "There never has been a 'pure' landscape. Humans have moulded it, developed it, influenced it, since the earliest times.....What you call photography of 'pure' landscape is, I think, a particular genre of photography tied to a particular romantic notion of the world. But the way we conceptualize the world keeps shifting and changing."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing left to be seen that hasn't been seen before. Now we try to find something to be said that hasn't been said before.

12/14/2006 04:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah but how we see is influenced by how we talk (and think) :)

12/14/2006 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

The second comment "how we see is influenced by..." is what makes for a huge number of interpretations of the same subject. Search for 'spaceneedle' or something like that on flickr - while many are very similar there are plenty of unique interpretations/views of a much photographed place.

I think there areas of pure landscape mixed in and separated by the influence of man on the landscape - part of the challenge (and fun) is either separating or integrating the two in a particular composition.

Also, I'm the 'Brian' who in a previous comment asked "what does it mean to have talent in photography...?" but I had my blogger accounts mixed up so my info wasn't shared properly. Not that it matters, but still.


12/14/2006 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are thinking about this in the wrong way.

There never has been a 'pure' landscape. Humans have moulded it, developed it, influenced it, since the earliest times. For instance,in Britain you can still see how the hills have been shaped by humans during the Iron Age. All over the world you can see how humans have adapted different geologies.

Some recent photography acknowleges this fact, and focuses on how we change the landscape around us, e.g., work by Steven B Smith (The weather and a place to live) and the fabulous work of Edward Burtynsky

Other recent photography takes a different turn on landscape, perhaps closer to the romantic notions of the past, e.g, Thomas Joshua Cooper.

What you call photography of 'pure' landscape is, I think, a particular genre of photography tied to a particular romantic notion of the world. But the way we conceptualize the world keeps shifting and changing.


PS. You may not get many comments because it is difficult to leave them? I found it difficult to log in and leave a comment.

12/14/2006 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Steve Durbin said...

I quite agree with Toby about the virtual non-existence of "pure" landscapes (though we come closer to it in the American west than you do in Europe). I would also say that if we think of less grand, more intimate landscapes, then it's much easier to create images where human impact is negligible or irrelevant. But I took Mark to be using "pure" in reference to the genre, i.e. photography that at least does not foreground human structures or impact. I do think there is still plenty of good work out there, whether in a fairly traditional vein like Roman Loranc, or a minimalist Michael Kenna style like Bill Schwab. Is there something new, different, and exciting? That's hard to say and more a matter of taste. I have to say I haven't found quite the thing I'm trying to work toward myself--but that's all to the good!

12/14/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger bcwhite said...

I find it odd that the influence of humans makes something "unpure". Is it unpure because there are birds influencing the landscape? What about mosquitos? Beaver damns?

12/14/2006 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Paul Butzi said...

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

-Marcel Proust

12/14/2006 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Perhaps, but only according to its former (fossilized) definition--whatever that was. One of the most compelling qualities of your ku series is its iconoclasm, facilitated by your use of the vignette action: there's an elevation of the mundane that's (for lack of a better word) haunting.

It's probably no coincidence that I discovered your site while I'm reading Walden again.

Just as Paul Butzi's discussion on Tracy Helgeson's work asks: what's with our attachment to "realism," resolution and technical accuracy?

Use a filter? TABOO! Manipulate it in Photoshop? TABOO! WTF? All imagery is interpretive.

Frederick Church and Thomas Cole are clearly spectacular but I far prefer Monet. It's simply more emotional.

Why can't landscape photography possess the same visceral quality?

12/15/2006 09:21:00 AM  

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