October 5, 2014

Truly Remembering A Landscape or Place - The Artist’s Dilemma

Tara Marshall-Tierney

Thoughts atop a crumbling yellow canyon

As humans, and particularly as artists, we are constantly attempting to remembering and capture our visual sights through photography and drawing. Even through this however, we are selecting a frozen still with a set frame, and this is not what we see. Even when stuck in one spot, our eyes travel across the whole landscape.]

We were joined in the Gila by Matthew Rangel, a printmaker who pieces together landscapes in a way that exists in maps and topology but through this attempt to capture the entire landscape, results in an image that is impossible for the eye to see. This is what interested me about his work and made me think further about the way we capture landscapes to remain in our memory. He also spoke about how he would sometimes draw the landscape “wrong” and this is something I have been noticing in my own work since Land Arts began.


I will often omit a tree or some other obstruction to capture a line smoothly. So my attempt to remember them in the future is already an unreliable one, along with the fact that the set frame and 2D format further distracts from what is in front of me.

But trying to remember it just myself does the same and often becomes a mass of line, shape colour, rather than any detailing. Photographing the landscape, for me, obscures my memory further - forcing me to remember that single 6x4 frame, singling it out as special & forgetting the rest. Already, when I think back to Chaco, Headwaters etc, I am remembering what I photographed while I was there, more than my true experience.

Over time, memories of landscape fade and become more & more obscured and blurred into multiple confusions of several places.

The unreliability of what we are capturing versus what we are experiencing against a battle to capture it fully I think can be the landscape artist and photographers biggest and most fascinating obstacle.
We are taught to understand landscape in a 2D, framed format, though reality is something entirely different.

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