Change evokes a sense of loss, a faint memory, and at most a weak account of facts.
More than any other kind of picture making, landscape photography is encoded in 19th Century painting traditions and ideals as well as the inherent beauty of the object. For many it held spiritual significance and sacred power: what John Ruskin calls the “pathetic fallacy” (related to empathy), where one believes that the landscape is capable of possessing human emotions. Yet landscape photography is also a reflection of man’s desire to triumph over and control the landscape for his own use and benefit. The photograph is designed to elicit the natural beauty and magnificence of the landscape with a sense of human order and sovereignty. I wish to go beyond this narrow, expected view. I have no desire to discover the pristine, untouched, virginal forest to photograph, or the secluded, undisturbed field or sand dune to render in detailed, textural beauty. (Although for my own spiritual gratification, I search for this very thing.)
These landscapes are not looked upon and appreciated either for their inherent beauty or for the pleasure that can be derived from communing or interacting with the landscape. They are the topography of desire and unfulfilled promises, laying claim not to the beauty of a particular scene, but to a particular place where men have derived pleasure from something other than the landscape. They are witnesses to places abandoned by day, memories of stories untold. They exist near highways, in city parks, on docks, in private spaces, in open spaces and in some instances, constructed spaces.
The pictures are not intended to inform or describe the landscape, but they are intended to elicit a sense of wonder, inquisitiveness, imagination, at times uncomfortable tension and above all a sense of loss and abandonment. The place of contact is sometimes obscured from view, hiding behind underbrush as we peer voyeuristically through the layers of unclear memories. Yet at times it is an entirely open view, scattered with leaves, branches and discarded accouterments and supplies left behind by their transient inhabitants. They are memories blurred by time, but still recalling pleasure, immediacy, need and emptiness.
Just as the landscape changes constantly over time – inconspicuous to the human eye – and despite our efforts to control it, so do the people, the motivations, the events, and the outcomes of the stories related to these places. Therefore the viewer is allowed, and even expected to question Who? What? How? and Why? The questions remain unanswered; the answers remain insignificant.