Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Of Grass and Life.
How potent can a physical point of view be? As a participator in visual culture, I often question how distorted my one particular opinion or point of view may be. It is often I find that influential conversation may drive images or art works further beyond in potency and commentary than the initial approach to making the work suggested. It is then that I find fascinating the stark and emptiness in landscapes and yet how potent it can become within discourse.
To me Landscapes are something that I find particularly hard to comment on. Perhaps its living in a big city all my life, perhaps is the lack of anything floral in my parents house growing up, or even the fact that every weekend I was dragged to a country club to play golf for four hours on endless "scapes" of manicured grass. It is this particular landscape, the golf course, however which I found helped build an idea of a potent and very loaded terrain. The walls of the club house are decorated with endless photgraphs of grass. Picture after picture of grass, close ups, long shots, even aerial shots depicting the golf course just outside the walls. I used to think these photos were the most boring images I had ever seen, however in retrospect I find them fascinating. Whom ever took the photos was merely documenting the golf course so that the participators of such "field" could worship their glorious private and expensive meeting grounds within the club house, aka church o' golf. I can't get more excited politically than this. There is a quote in "Truth and Landscape" that states; "Although we are not as naive as we once were about the acuracy of the pictures, we continue to value them initially as reminders of what is out there, of what is distinct from us." The photographs of the grass, which is trimmed to perfect height every morning at 4am, are reminders to the club memebrs of their turf however they are also if ever where encountered by an outside audience reminders of a landscape which is unatainable by many social and economical limitations. These photgraphs of grass are not just documentation, they are worship objects.
"Beauty in Photography" states; " There must be another before there can be love. Eden becomes the object of our desire only after we are cast out." The politics are heavy in these photos, they were comissioned with a purpose. I began to think about the landscape and how much of the defacing of the American landscape via developement was influencing photgraphers and their work. A friend used to say something to me when I was a teenager in regards to dating; "How can you miss someone, if they never go away?" So I ask, when was nature missed, if not until it was basically eliminated from our lives? The reaction was "natural" to begin to address the fact that the landscape was being transformed and it no longer looked like before. The essay talks about desire, about constructing realities of one's desire, of Eden, with pleassure. I mean what a perfect description of a country club but a temple of selfish worship.
Non the less landscapes I can approach as expected visual comments. Yes they are out there, yes they are beautiful, and yes they can be potent in content. However it is the approach to the work about landscapes that makes this interesting to me. The context in whcih the photograph or artwork was made from is valuable information to the dialogue a landscape image can participate in. There is grass outside my house, however it is the context of the grass depicted within the walls of the club house which make those particular landscapes stand above any photos of my fornt yard. It is the intent in whcih they were made and the purpose they serve. I respect some though behind production. It is a easy road to merely rely on content to follow production. A conversation is a multiple direction street and therefore the photgraphers influence upon an image can be as significant as the audience.