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« FYI ~ well, well, well ... how do you do | Main | another slice of life »

man +/-? nature # 1-2 ~ the grand landscape ?

Man +/-? nature # 1click to embiggen
Man +/-? nature # 2click to embiggen
As part of my ongoing effort to make myself crazy, re: Art, I occasionally read the blog DLK COLLECTION, a blog from one photography collector to another (from the blog's subhead).

In a a recent entry regarding the current Joel Meyerowitz exhibit - Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks at the Museum of the City of New York - the author opined:

... it wasn't what I was expecting, and as a result, I found myself wandering through the galleries with questions bouncing around in my head. The punch line is that I think this show is less about the art and more about the parks, so my frame of reference was meaningfully out of kilter .... I think ... this exhibit will end up being less about Joel Meyerowitz and his particular artistic vision for the landscape form, and more about the parks themselves and the various experiences they offer to visitors ... [A]s memorable art, I'm not sure it rates quite so highly; while these images are undeniably well crafted, I think the only way these pictures stand up to the tests of the canon of great landscape photography is if we redefine what the genre is based on the realities of our current time, placing a greater weight on those pictures which tell the ongoing story of the coexistence of land and man.

That last part, the part about "placing a greater weight on those pictures which tell the ongoing story of the coexistence of land and man" in redefining "the canon of the great landscape", has been ricocheting and pinging around in my skull ever since I read it. That's because, in part, I thought the landscape work of Robert Adams, Joel Sternfeld, Richard Misrach, and Mitch Epstein, to name just a few (and amongst the ongoing efforts of a host of others) had already "redefined the genre". But, in reading the DLK entry, I am inclined to believe that the author considers the great-landscape genre canon to be made up of pictures - grand vistas, majestic mountains, broad canyons, and sinuous deserts, etc. - by Ansel Adams and his like-picturing brethern.

That said, R. Adams, Sternfeld, Mistach, Epstein and the like do, in fact, make up part of the backbone of a genre that has come to be known as The New Topography. A genre which is distinctly different in dealing with the landscape than that of Sir Ansel and his devotees. Perhaps the DLK author is suggesting that the time has come to accept The New Topography as part and parcel of the "canon of the great landscape" as opposed to being considered as a separate landscape genre.

To which I can only add - sure, why not? I mean, if you make your decisions about pictures based upon "canons", which apparently helps avoid some sort of confusion in the Art World, then by all means "redefine" the canon, get on with it, and accept the fact that on the planet as we find it in today's world, the notion of "grand landscape" needs more than bit of "redefining".

All of that said, the other reason that this notion has been cluttering up my thoughts is because, as anyone who follows The Landscapist knows, I expend a great deal of my picturing time and effort making pictures "which tell the ongoing story of the coexistence of land and man". But, because I am not always certain that the idea comes across to viewers of my pictures, I have been festering and fixating upon the notion of how to make this point a little more obvious. In effect, how to "redefine" how I approach my idea of the grand landscape with a greater weight on those pictures which tell the ongoing story of the coexistence of land and man.

So, what you see here in the above pictures, is my first real stab at driving the point home. The pictures are not exactly what I set out to make when I ventured forth to make them. On the other hand, kind of going with the flow - both while picturing and while processing - has brought me to a place that I like or, at least, a place that gives me even more to think about.

Opinions - regarding any and/or all of the above, to include my pictures - much appreciated please.

Reader Comments (4)

Love the concept of the -/+ series, even if it is feeding it to us viewers with a spoon.

November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSvein-Frode

I like the idea, but not the execution. Couldn't you just have the picture with the road, minus the symbols?

Didn't Robert Adams himself have a bit of a realization that man could be included — even featured — in photographs? I think it happened about when he stopped photographing churches and completed The New West. In my opinion, people have to find their own way to that point or it doesn't mean jack. Even back then it wasn't anything new.

November 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

I think it's an interesting idea. I'll wait to see how you develope it.

November 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterInfamous J

Do you have to be a graphic designer to truly understand the brilliance of these pictures? The separation of the two sides coming together to form the whole, the interesting asymmetrical shapes, the symbols added, the representation of an idea, the interesting visual relationship from panel to panel to symbol, I love them. These hit me in that "I wish I would have thought of doing it that way" way.

November 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gotz

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