Musings on Photography

New Landscapist

Posted in aesthetics, art is a verb, interesting blogs by Paul Butzi on April 11, 2007

In response to my comment that “I’m not a post-modernist”, Christoph Hammann asked “What then would you call yourself?”

Well, that’s been on my mind, on and off.  On because it’s one of those questions for which you feel you ought to have a ready answer.  Off, because I think it’s one of those questions like “What is Art?” where you find that having the answer wouldn’t change anything.

So I pondered it briefly but stopped when life intervened, like when my wife asked me to figure out why the paper kept jamming the laser printer (it turned out to be 8×5″ x 11″ paper in name, but more like 8.6″ x 11.1″ in practice, a fact I discovered after fiddling trying to get it to feed in BOTH laser printers), and felling a Big Leaf Maple on the stream side of the house.  Big Leaf Maples often have multiple stems; this one had five, and felling the first four went without a hitch, with them landing one atop the other in the neat row I had planned, right where I wanted.  The fifth stem, though, started twisting as it came down, jumped off the stump in a fit of pique (missed me by about four feet, thanks for your concern) and leapt sideways to land atop the trellis on the patio after sending my wife fleeing.  Trellis was undamaged.  There’s nothing like a big heavy tree coming down on something you desperately DON’T want crushed to divert your attention from post-modernism.

So I hadn’t made much progress through the weekend, nor the first part of the week.  So I was delighted to wander over to Mark Hobson’s The Landscapist and read his most recent entry, which reads 

That said, it seems that there is an emerging middle ground out there where the two cultural paradigms collide and out of the smashed particles a new stew is being brewed – perhaps a kind of post-postmodernism.

Photography-wise, a place where neither intellectual concept nor visual referent reign supreme. A place where the skeptical/questioning gaze of the camera does not descend fully into the ‘end-of-the-line-everything-is-used-up’ paradigm of postmodernism but rather, it creates a glimmer of it’s-not-over-yet hope because, unlike postmodernism, the photographer actually believes that the referent matters.

A place where, even though the referent matters, the skeptical/questioning gaze of the camera never places it on an altar of idoltry that drips with sappy sentimentality. A place where the referent is addressed with a respect that preserves it’s authenticity but still allows the photography-observer to move well beyond the ‘actuality of the real world’.

A place where the denoted and the connoted co-exist on equal footing. A place where photography can both illustrate and illuminate.

In short, a place where I want to be.

I like his description of this place.  If I’m going to call myself something, I’d like to call myself whatever this thing gets called.

I think the name ‘post-post-modernist’ is not very helpful; I’d suggest that we instead just call people who are aiming for the place he describes as New Landscapists, because that’s what my bookmark to his blog says.  (The ‘new’ is there because I used to have a link to his blog at the old URL, before he moved it.)

So I guess I’m both an Art-is-a-Verbist, and a New Landscapist.

I’m a big believer in shamelessly quoting someone else when they’ve done a better job than I can do, so I’ve quoted rather a lot of Hobson’s post.  So here’s why you need to go over to the post and read it there – I really like the photo he’s chosen to go with the post.  Awesome.  Go over to his blog and read the entries for the last week or two – following Hobson as he threads the needle makes for great reading.

4 Responses

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  1. Chantal said, on April 12, 2007 at 9:03 am

    I’m not certain if my *pictures* fit into this category or not, but how I FEEL definitely does! ‘New Landscapists’….I love it.

  2. Frank Armstrong said, on April 12, 2007 at 9:20 am

    I have always been happy with “photographer”


  3. Jack Nelson said, on April 19, 2007 at 9:38 am

    I don’t think New Landscapist is a good title. It’s too close to New Topography/Topographist and they were definitely post modern; no fence striding for them.

  4. Sean said, on June 5, 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Photography is like having a cocaine habit. The more I do it the more I need to do it. I just tell people that I’m an addict and wave my camera at them.

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