The work of Gregory Crewdson also comes to my mind strongly when I think of landscape photography- albeit a sort of emotional landscape. His constructed tableaus look more like film stills, yet are open to a broad range of allegorical possibilities.
When I see his images I view them as extensions of our emotional conflict as a civilization at this moment in time. Exteriors and Interiors are fused together in a kind of dream state.
Each image seems poised at the moment of revelation or pivotal decision, often imbued with a kind of catastrophic atmosphere.
Strangely this feels “natural” give the chaotic speeds at which our live are propelled forward. When viewing his images it is like stepping into one of those dreams where you are lost and can’t remember how you got to such a place, such an impossible situation. I feel like this in my waking life too and it is disconcerting.
Crewdson’s tableaus are anchored on the individuals who inhabit them. These people often appear exhausted and drained. A new kind of everyperson for the visually over stimulated.
His images are haunting not for their odd collisions of nature and human surrender, but because they are so familiar to our emotion experience of the stresses we encounter everyday through their own visual narrative.
In the past the stresses of civilization drove the poetic among us back to nature to balance mind and body.
For most of us the concept of “escaping to nature” is now a pretty fiction. It was possible at one time and numerous writers have given us eloquent accounts of their experiences, such as Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, among others. But for most of us, we are tied to our debts and jobs and numerous responsibilities. Civilization has eclipsed nature in many ways, or at least our access to it.
Even national parks require fees and have camping restrictions, almost everything else is private property. Where are we left to go?
We “escape” to virtual places. Landscapes each with myriad individual emotional flora and faunas to navigate.
Landscape as inhabitations experienced by people of various socio-economic status, race, and class…
Landscape as spiritual or allegorical visages and the detritus in our wake…
“Landscape” itself has become a mirror of the many psychic alignments of civilization.
Emotional intersections that have indistinct borders as much on actual land as they do in our experience of our environment, whether it be and exterior or interior space.
“The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences.” —Aurthor Rimbaud
Minor White spoke of his theory of equivalence:
“Equivalence is a pregnant discipline. Hence the photography that grows out of its practice is bound to develop and change with the photographers and writers on photographic criticism who become mature enough to understand the nature of the theory or approach. The Equivalent is one of those ideas that in practice grows by the efforts and accomplishments of the people who explore it.”
“…photographs originate in a known feeling state. They are not self-expressive, or self-searching; they are self-found. Communication is of no importance, evocation of little significance, competition nonexistent. They are shown as an event out of which Equivalence might occur. The possibility of the reader’s being confronted with something of himself is their only reason for being reproduced. They will function as mirrors of the viewer, whether he admits it or not. It will not be pointed out which of the images knows happiness, the one that knows anger, or the one that knows sadness because viewers of photographs need the opportunity to learn faith in their own feelings.”
Sally Mann from What Remains
“Mann asks us in What Remains to contemplate the beauty and efficiency with which nature assimilates the body once life is over. Here she seamlessly connects the landscape of the earth to the topography of the body and examines how both are tightly interwoven.”