From the invention of photography more than 175 years ago, the landscape has played a pivotal role. The remarkable 19th century landscapes of William Henry Jackson and Carlton Watkins shaped their contemporaries’ view of the land, but at the time were not considered art. In 1902, Stylists and Photo Secessionists seeking photography’s recognition as a respectable art form moved from the straight landscape of 19th century “to advance photography as applied to pictorial expression” with a clearly painterly artifice evident in their work.
A little more than 20 years later, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, and others rejected the secessionist view and formed f 64, linking back to the traditions of Watkins and Jackson, with a new manifesto:
Striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods… possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form.
The 60s and 70s moved the landscape into the realm of the vernacular, poking fun at the strict formalism and perceived pictorialism of Adams and other western landscape photographers. In the last 30 years, the landscape has been visited, revisited and remade in every imaginable way. With the advent of digital technology and new ways of creating, using, transmitting, and sharing images, the landscape is again turned on its head.
Given this heritage, we members of BAPC challenged ourselves to examine the landscape and to individually define what it means. One member reveals “a sense of something unexpected but not entirely unfamiliar” with images concentrating “on details of the landscape that can change your perception of landscape itself.” Another explores a “domestic landscape of daily existence.” For one, “Air, Water and Earth” become the constituent elements of the landscape. Another sees the “intersection between the landscape and the body.”
Several explore the vernacular landscape. For one, “what we are told or witness does not neatly sync with our own perceptions and realities,” while another sees the “entropic nature of the engineered landscape.”
Members explored pictorial traditions with 19th, 20th and 21st century techniques, applying Cyanotype, Pinhole, Holga, Polaroid, digital panorama, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) digital to solve the landscape puzzle.
Ultimately in each of our personal and individual expressions, the Landscape Revisited serves as the Bay Area Photography Collective’s homage to the rich tradition of the Landscape in the history of photography.
We are a nonprofit organization committed to building a community of photographers. Our work ranges from fine art to documentary, color to black and white, traditional darkroom to digital imaging. We nurture each other’s professional and artistic growth through member activities such as artist talks, portfolio reviews, workshops, salons, and exhibitions.