Photograph by John Davies // Agecroft Power Station.
For my first semester at UWE, I have been allocated the medium and large format brief which lasts for 6 weeks. Although I have not previously experimented with these cameras, I am fully aware of their capabilities and am excited to get shooting tomorrow! I have decided to document most of my findings and research in a journal, but I would also like to post a few things online too.
This first post outlines a few details that I have recently learnt, after reading around the subject of landscape and a ‘sense of place’.
Landscape representation as an art form has roots in the middle ages, with quite a big development and emphasis on the Romantic age of the 19th Century. Although close observation and imaginative construction are key features of landscape, during this period three main types of representation were apparent. Pastoral is very controlled, and perhaps is not a ‘true’ reflection of place. Picturesque is more physical and spiritual, with an emphasis on ‘the natural state’. Finally, sublime is the idea that nature and landscape is omnipotent, and is in fact an overwhelming, uncontrollable force.
Furthermore, W.J.T Mitchell outlines in the opening chapter of ‘Landscape and Power’ two distinctive ‘types’ of landscape. He firmly believes that landscape should progress from a noun into a verb. Landscape should not be viewed as a “text or object (photograph), but rather as a “process by which social and subjective identities are formed.”
The first, previous type of landscape was contemplative and aimed to “narrativise the history of landscape as a progressive movement towards the purification of the visual field.” This was associated with Modernism. The second, and more current type is interpretative and digests the landscape by using determinate signs such as trees, stones, crosses. Therefore, there is more weighting on religious or psychological themes. This type is associated with Post-Modernism.
In terms of relating these ideologies and movements to my own work, I have an interest in psychogeography. The idea that a place or landscape can have a huge, powerful effect on the psyche is truly fascinating. I agree with Mitchell in his idea that landscape is not a thing or an object, but it is an active medium with huge capabilities, socially, economically, emotionally and politically.
Therefore, in later posts I aim to delve deeper into landscape as an art form, but mainly as an entity and powerful medium. Through the work of other photographers, artists and poets alike, I strive to push my practise and knowledge ever further.