Landscape Through Time and Space

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From its invention in 1839, photographers were drawn to landscape as one of the richest and most ideal subjects. This exhibition presents a selection of distinct approaches to landscape photography: landscapes as a representation of beauty; landscape as a means of artistic expression; and landscape as forum for political and environmental issues.

Landscape photography began as a document, with early photographers wanting to show their audiences what a place looked like. While the camera verifies aspects of reality, it can also express the artistry of the person holding the camera. Oftentimes a landscape picture becomes a thing of beauty, particularly if the hotographer is sensitive to the conventions of landscape painting. Through the use of light, composition, timed exposures, and development, we see not only the details of a particular place, but how it felt for the photographer to be there.

Some photographers manipulate the landscape to create abstract imagery or scenes that challenge the imagination. Partially grounded in reality, these photographs incorporate new vantage points (aerial views) or internal ruminations (fantasy). The finished product often combines history and process to create an alternative approach to viewing the landscape.

Landscape photographs can be windows to our world. The images in this section portray various marks humankind has made on the landscape. Though some of these places lack in human presence, the drastic impact of humankind on the landscape is unavoidable and profound. The building of railroads, dams, power plants, and golf courses have forever altered the landscape. Tranquil views of mountains and streams have been replaced with sites of toxic waste and garbage. Some contemporary photographers have become messengers for the land; their harsh truths expose a landscape that has been changed, perhaps for all time.

Funding for this project was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a donation from PhotoWings.