Last Of The Year
Post that is. I am ending the year working on my next project; Between. I am editing and sequencing the images. I have also created an iPhoto book as well as written a short essay. I hope to take the iPhoto book around to galleries in the New Year. I’ll post the essay below and welcome comments and helpful suggestions. I hope you end and begin your New Year in whatever fashion floats your boat!
The landscape has been a subject for artists ever since the first human raised charcoal to stone thousands of years ago. The idea of landscape has always been to a large extent one of stasis. The seasons may change and the mountains may crumble to the sea in a million years but it has generally been assumed that any landscape I can capture will be available for someone to view and experience well into the future. Thousands of aspiring photographers annually trek to Yellowstone Park to glimpse and photograph Halfdome and other views captured by Ansel Adams decades ago. “Come see the landscape of Van Gogh ”announce travel posters I think I have seen on subways and newspapers.
The practice of landscape photography has also been one of contemplation and deliberation. There is no rush. The landscape is not going anywhere. Although the light might fade it will be there again tomorrow or the next. There is very little spontaneity. The specific subject is researched or searched out, the area is reached and the perfect time of day for a photograph is determined. The large format camera is setup, the subject is framed in a slow, methodical and contemplative fashion, the shutter is released and the exposure is made. The subjects fit for the genre of landscape has been expanded since the 1970’s when the photographers of The New Topographics started capturing the human altered landscape in their pictures. Before then only the pristine and unspoiled beauty of the natural environments was thought worthy of capturing on film or canvas.
The pictures I present here can be called anti-landscapes. These are images of the land between destinations as I ride on a train. They are between here and there, between reality and memory, between today, tomorrow and yesterday. These are images that zoom passed us as we read our newspapers and complacently drink our morning coffee or enjoy the first beer of the evening, discreetly wrapped in a brown paper bag. We put on our headphones or stare at a portable screen and shut out the wonders of space-time flapping and waving passed our windows. We are not mindful of the territory we pass on our way to our final destination.
There is no deliberation, or contemplation as these images are captured. These photographs were captured as they came upon me from the train window. It was more a hunt with a rifle than an exercise in contemplation. The landscape would come charging and I would raise my camera and put it to my eye. Sometimes I would just press the lens against the window and shoot. Many times the landscape would be moving too fast and it would rush passed me, escaping into time. Sometimes the landscape would lumber passed me like an old wildebeest and I could creep up on the landscape and shoot. I am shooting from a blind. I am not in the landscape. At times one can clearly see the plane separating the photographer from the landscape.
The classic traits of a landscape photographs, focus, fine grain and perfect composition are missing in these images. There is ample evidence of movement. In sum these are pictures of places that will never exist again. No matter how often I ride the same train or visit the same spot I will never see these slices of space-time again. Neither the Tootsie Roll truck on the highway, nor the urban couple at the edge of the world, nor the hazy sun over the tracks, will ever align with me again