Musings on Photography

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Posted in Blogroll by Paul Butzi on May 10, 2008

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Over on Colin Jago’s excellent Photostream, this insightful and thought provoking post:

I’m not talking about the temptation to clone out the vehicles from the “idyllic” mountain view, or even the fact that there is very little landscape in the world whose appearance hasn’t been created by man (essentially none in Europe I would say). No, I started thinking about how many landscapes there are that are now managed to preserve a given look.

These specific examples are English and you’ll have to make up your own to suit your locality, but when sheep are put on downland not because of their agricultural value but because the grass needs to be cropped close to create the style of landscape that we associate with the downs, or when the National Trust maintains upland farms in order to keep the bracken at bay and the dry-stone walls maintained, what we are doing is retouching the landscape to present a perfect appearance on our current definition of perfection. The difference between lip gloss and spending money putting in hedges in a place where we expect there to be hedges is not great.

I’ve had my landscape photography described as ‘exploring the relationship between the unmanaged landscape and managed landscape’. It remains a conundrum to me that almost all of what urban America considers ‘pristine’ landscape is actually heavily managed.

Lip Gloss. Go read the whole thing.

5 Responses

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  1. Guy Tal said, on May 10, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Some related thoughts here:

    http://guytal.com/wordpress/?p=17

    This speaks to what I sometimes refer to as the Urban Stockholm Syndrome. I believe our psyche had become so distorted after generations of living in confined, manufactured worlds that we have come to accept them as natural and beautiful, rather than utilitarian.

    When you’re imprisoned, you dream of pure unbridled freedom (an idealized fantasy,) you don’t celebrate the delicate beauty of the metal bars. Creating images of pristine (looking) landscapes is not idyllic. It is defiance, an act of rebellion, refusal to accept or endorse that industrialism, sprawl, and unchecked population growth is all that wonderful.

    “But love of the wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need – if only we had eyes to see.” –Edward Abbey

    Guy

  2. Oren Grad said, on May 10, 2008 at 11:41 am

    >> Creating images of pristine (looking) landscapes is not idyllic. It is defiance, an act of rebellion, refusal to accept or endorse that industrialism, sprawl, and unchecked population growth is all that wonderful. <<

    Whoa, Guy, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  3. Guy Tal said, on May 10, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    And sometimes a cigar can lead to the impeachment of a president 🙂

    Everything must be taken in context.

    Guy

  4. Mike said, on May 11, 2008 at 12:41 am

    A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke. Groucho Marx

  5. Bruce Hemingway said, on May 11, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    It is not a very large step to re-define landscapes to be something else:

    http://www.urbanlandscape.org.uk/

    (This genre grimly fascinates me…)

    Bruce


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