Sunday, September 5, 2010

Daily Practice 248/365

Title: "Ross Bay, September 5, 2010 9:16 AM"
(click image to view larger)
It was a marvelous morning today: a cool/warm breeze that was as piquant as a good hot and sour soup blew a fresh smell from the ocean. I've been working my way through Frank Gohlke's "Thoughts on Landscape", a collection of essays written by, and interviews with, the photographer. Here's a snippet from page 192:
"Our experience of landscape involves a continual tension between the familiar and the new, the typical and the unique, between the tendency to fall back on comfortable habits of perception and the necessity for a heightened attentiveness to what is unprecedented in every situation. As a photographer my relationship to the landscape I photograph is one of dialogue. I am not simply the interrogator of a passive subject; I, too, am being questioned. I look at this place and ask "What is important here" and the reply comes back, "What is important to you". The work that results encompasses both questions."

Simply stated, I photograph the landscape because it is where I want to be; being along the shore, or in the forest, is always restorative for me. For the visually oriented, the landscape offers an infinite variety of details large and small to engage with; lines, forms and textures abound - it is like walking through a drawing or painting that is ever changing with the light, the wind, the rain. The photographs I make in the landscape are highly personal: in their details they reveal far more about me than they do of the physical moment at which each was made.
What I find most revealing about Gohlke's comment is his referral to "a continual tension" which exists in the landscape and our experience of the landscape. Successful works of art generally incorporate some kind of tension; it seems that landscape as subject brings the tension into play implicitly.

1 comment:

J. M. Golding said...

This seems like an important connection! I was also struck by the emphasis on dialogue with the landscape - and how since each of us is unique, each of our dialogues will be at least somewhat different, resulting in art unique to the individual.

In this photograph, I feel a sense of tension in the moving water - although it doesn't show the traditional indicators of motion, it somehow feels as if I had better step back if I don't want to get wet! The light shining on the water through that intense sky, and the conversation between waves of water and waves of cloud, are wonderful.