I was part of conversation the other night with some of my compatriots and the question of the role how "landscape” impacted or fit into one’s body of work came up.
This inspired a discussion about “Landscape” vs “The Landscape”.
I pondered the thought out-loud:
"Landscape" is the vista, "The Landscape" is, in my mind, the vehicle to the mood. It's what timbre is to voice. In a photograph it's color or lack there of, it's about light and the lack of light. The Landscape is what stirs you to look closer and think further away. It's the forest in the iris and the horizon of a thought...
On further thought they aren’t mutually exclusive either. Realistically a landscape without “The Landscape” is plain and emotionless. It can be pretty and even possibly beautiful, but a lazy image. And there’s a ton on them out there, some of which I’ve made. They can be stepping stones to a more refined way of looking at content and composition. Or they can be a trap of mediocrity.
Conversely, if you take “Landscape” out of the image and just leave “The Landscape” orphaned on it’s own you might have a nice piece of conceptual art that can’t escape the ethos of it’s own thinking. Photographer and sculpture artist James Lapp remarked to me once regarding this in both art and music:
”That kind of stuff was mentally interesting because I found with a lot of the [conceptual] music you listen to and no, it’s just not working. You could mentally get a grip on it but it was like a lot of art then, when I first saw I was like, that’s not right. But when I started getting interested in art, it was like an intellectual process and I became convinced it was really interesting. But it’s like, I like some music with my music, just like I like some organization with my art, any art.”
If you’re making a landscape photograph ask yourself where “the landscape” is. If you’re making a portrait ask yourself the same question. If you’re making conceptual work is there a “landscape” present? Is there a road map for the concept?