I’m a person who keeps cars long after the repeated repairs make it worthwhile. So it’s no surprise that I held onto the original design for this blog for more than six years. The theme was called Neutra. I loved its simplicity and clarity. The problem was that whomever designed Neutra decided to give up on it after about three months. So there were never any updates — not even accommodations for cell phones.
These days most people look at New Landscape Photography on their phones, according to the analytics I have. So it was critical that I adopt a responsive theme, which would adjust to phones. A particular frustration for me was the difficulty of reading the artist statements on a phone. I believe that the artist statements complement the work and add to a viewer’s appreciation of it. (Some disagree with me, saying that work should always speak for itself, alone — but that’s a topic for another blog post.)
For the last couple of years I’ve been looking around for a better theme and couldn’t find one I liked. Finally I checked out WordPress’s theme called 2017, which was released — surprise, surprise — just this year. I really like it, and have changed the blog over to it.
There are some big changes: the picture window has grown from 575 pixels wide to 740. That means that, depending on the proportions of the image, the photographs will be about two-thirds larger in area. The first image published at this larger size is my own picture of a small park across the street from my home. It’s part of the From My Front Door project, in which I took Henry David Thoreau’s approach to Walden and applied it my immediate neighborhood, using a camera instead of a pen.
Another change is that I dropped the right column, which had my picture, a search box, an email-signup box and an enormous list of all the artists I had featured. (Confession: I stopped keeping that list up after it grew over 300 names and someone chided me for its being unwieldy). I put my picture on the contact page, along with the email sign-up box. I dropped the list of 300 artists, and I’m working on getting a menu link to a search box (help, please!).
Things that won’t change: my commitment to sharing the work of exciting photographers, many of whom are emerging and early-career. I’m also determined to make the blog more international. I have so much enjoyed getting to know artists from Europe and the US, but I want to add more work from people in Africa, Asia and South America.
I continue to run a Facebook group that is also called New Landscape Photography. It has over 3,000 members and is an active site of discussion, picture-sharing and questions. I lightly curate the group, tossing out postcard scenics, pretty sunsets and the like. Watermarks are also not allowed. It’s a very collegial and polite group, which I am determined to maintain as it grows.
The transition to the new theme may be rocky. Please let me know if you encounter any troubles. Thanks for your readership and support over these past six years. It has meant the world to me. And let me know if there’s someone’s work you think I should publish.
— Willson Cummer, Fayetteville, New York, USA
German landscape has been cultivated for centuries: created through continuous construction, destruction, rebuilding, mining and recultivation. However, until the industrial age landscape changed very slowly. Therefore, it appeared static and stable in relation to a human lifetime.
Only the advent of machines allowed mankind to change, destroy and rebuild, heap up and dig out landscapes within years, just like houses. Landscape photography used to treat landscape either as constant, changed only through the influence of nature or as something new, the result of human intervention.
The project called B404-A21 describes a process, the conversion of the route B404 into the motorway B21 on a stretch of 1.5 kilometres. The boggy terrain impedes motorway construction. Hundreds of piles are rammed 30 meters deep into the ground, thousands of tons of peat, clay and mud are removed and again thousands of tons sand are filled up, levelled, turned over and flattened again before being covered with nets, native soil, grass and bushes.
Creeks are diverted, pumped away, canalized and renatured. A distributor road, a motorway entrance and exit as well as two bridges are built. And every hollow fills with water, reeds grow, grass and weeds cover every pile of sand within weeks. Birds settle in, are driven out, come back or not.
Whatsoever: an awesome undertaking, a new traffic artery, destroyed nature, lush nature, profit and loss, a heroic undertaking and a devastation. The project is ongoing, bulky, and the outcome is still vague.
— Gregor Kuhlenbäumer, Kiel, Germany
Within the last few years, nothing has made quite such a dramatic impact on the natural Malaysian landscape around me as large-scale land reclamations have done.
It’s been both fascinating and disturbing to witness how fast once familiar scenes of “home” have been transformed and or completely destroyed. For this to happen, vast amounts of sand have been mined, transported and dispersed out to sea and along coastal areas, creating strange new land forms where once none had been.
My project covers five active reclamation sites — capturing them from land and sea. I’m interested in how these manufactured forms come into being and the process of them becoming a part of the working landscape. As to whether they are truly successful in doing this or not remains to be seen.
— Raz Talhar, Johor, Malaysia
Through the installation Pavillons et Totems I question our relationship with history and myths by exploring a little-known or evolving heritage conveying experienced or legendary stories that stem from the construction of a collective narrative.
Tied to the former Franco-Belgian mining region, my approach is that of an ethnographer of humble places. At the CRP in Douchy-les-Mines, France I am presenting a set of photographs along with a sound montage played in the art center space, forming an installation that invites visitors to consider various sites and plunge into the stories these sites echo.
At the edge of a forest, at the end of a road, behind a curtain of trees, monuments loom up like apparitions, many of them ordinary ones that speak to the inhabitants of these territories and open their imagination. Their stories can be heard, like “micro narratives” forming a discontinuous and digressive narrative that envelops visitors and stimulates their imagination.
By superimposing images of places and stories of inhabitants like a mosaic, I poetize spaces by opening them to a multiplicity of perspectives and voices. Through these micro narratives, I allow the inhabitants of these places to reclaim their history and the history of their territory.
— Maxime Brygo, Lille, France
November 2011. Bamako “la coquette” is changing fast. The works in progress create the new image of the Malian capital. In the Sotuba area, near the “sino-malian friendship bridge,” Korean artisans build monuments over hundreds of meters, to commemorate the glory of the veterans. In this area looking as a war theatre, between construction and destruction, the sculptures made in the style of socialist-realist works from North Korea tell us a lot about the concerns of the state.
On January 20th, 2012, the Malian army celebrated its 50th anniversary and the officials inaugurated with great pomp the Avenue of the Army with the National Band playing and revived specially for the event. The Avenue of the Army is the symbol of a powerful military force, it is monumental and filled with signs of victory. A paradox at a time when Mali falls into one of its darkest periods in history.
Fifty years after the independence, African States strive to write their memory but chosen aesthetics are often foreign-inspired. Mali Militari is a fable that lets us imagine the dramatic situation that Mali knows, with an army unstructured, unable to cope with the jihadists who threaten the country’s political stability and much more.
— François-Xavier Gbré, Abidjan, Ivory Coast
For the past three years I’ve been documenting the reopening of a small sandstone quarry in Derbyshire, UK and on the edge of the Peak District National Park. The stone, known as Ashover Grit, is being used for conservation work on the nearby stately home, Chatsworth House. The quarry was last opened in the early 1900s and it is thought to be the source of much of the original stone used to construct Chatsworth House from 1687 onwards. The project to extract the stone is due to last until 2028 using low-impact, non-explosive quarrying techniques.
I’m using a variety of photographic equipment and formats, supplemented with sound, video and written evidence, to document the re-opening of the quarry until completion. I aim to self-publish a series of booklets throughout the project and exhibit a final sequence of work once the project is complete, subject to funding.
This selection of black & white film images are from January 2016.
— Steve Cordingley, Derbyshire, England
My work focuses primarily on the idea of urban sprawling and the urban expansion of its periphery. I photograph urban banality as though it were a romantic painting, trying only to be “stronger than this big nothing” in controlling the space by framing the subject. My aesthetic of the banal obeys its own rules: a ban on living objects, a precise geometrical organization, and the revelation of a specific physical and mental landscape blurring the lines between city and suburb, between suburb and countryside, a process that results in an independent identity.
This aesthetic of the emptiness in my photographic work attempts to understand our current environment.
— Emmanuel Monzon, Seattle, Washington, USA
‘’Leave’’ is a representative word.
Things occurred, conversion is effected,
However, it is only a change in the form.
Still there, essentially.
Found the sense of security here which was lost for so many years in the past.
But lost my sense of belonging at the same time.
Nothing is forever.
Everything is permanent.
— Hsiang-Lin Wang, New York
I find the edgeland fascinating. I am fascinated by the suburban area around a town that is not really town any more but also is not considered as nature. In Europe there is no untouched nature to be found any more. But some areas give you the illusion of an untouched area especially when the photographer tries to let the traces of man outside the frame. In this way the edgeland is much more honest to me. You cannot ignore the man-altered landscape and the edgeland does not want to be a spectacular beauty. It is more a subtle beauty. You can find man-made structures here that can complete the fragments of nature to an exciting image with rhythm and structure.
With my bicycle I cycle around the inner city of Münster through suburbs and the city near landscape. With my camera I try to create another picture of my hometown not dominated by the popular sights and places of interest.
– Gerrit Elshof, Münster, Germany
Third Nature consists of a series of images exploring a continued reflection on the constructed nature of the landscape, viewed in terms of contemporary spaces of recreation, commerce and suburban life.
The collective consequences of globalization, reflected in the contemporary sublime, and expressed as the terror we have created ourselves, forms the basis of this long term project.
— Vincent Bezuidenhout, Cape Town, South Africa
These photographs, from a series titled Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, are inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s famous set of woodcuts of the same name.
Hokusai’s woodcuts are part of a genre called ukiyo-e, which means “images from a floating world.” They are clearly composed in different layers, letting Mount Fuji hover above or next to the world of humans.
Often civilisation intrudes graphically into Fuji’s sacred space. Trees or posts cut into the mountain’s silhouette, house roofs and other constructions imitate its triangular profile.
Hokusai’s prints share several elements with photographs: they represent fleeting moments while including indices of seasons, they create a memory of simple events and people’s relationship with time is a major subject in the images.
This series is about time, moments, seasons, years, lifetimes.
— Raoul Ries, London
These images are from my project called Vistas — views from a few Superfund and brownfield sites in Western New York, not far from my home. These three images were made at the Albion MGP Superfund Site near the Erie Canal, in Albion, New York. They were taken on June 28, 2016.
Superfund – CERCLA is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. Initially the fund was financed with a tax on the petroleum and chemical industries, but since 2001 funding has come from U.S. taxpayers.
I started this project because I wanted to get to know my neighborhood a little bit better.
— Robert Doyle, Perry, New York, USA
I have been a fine art photographer for most of my adult life. For me, camerawork is like a meditation. It is how I organize and understand reality. It is a moment of poetry, without the constraints of language. There is an instant when the barrier between the observed and the observer, between inside and outside, disappears. At that threshold, there is absolute continuity. If a day goes by without at least one such moment of clarity and coherence, I feel I have missed something essential to my wellbeing.
Those of us who create landscape images, as well as those who enjoy looking at them, are all burdened to an extent by the historical, cultural and aesthetic norms the genre has evolved since the beginning of photography. Our view of landscape is inextricably bound to notions of “frontier” and “wilderness” that obtain from the geological surveys of the West in the 19th century, as well as to the panoramic vistas of more modern conservationist practitioners such as Ansel Adams. Such imagery, though “true,” and indeed beautiful, does not really exist, and at which subjects very few of us have ever looked.
We are surrounded by landscapes, both natural and constructed. We tend to block out those aspects of our living landscape that are merely utilitarian or vacant. But I have been, and continue to be, interested in just such places and in the constructed landscape more generally. My field of activity is the western USA. I am compelled by the sweeping emptiness of the west, punctuated here and there by suburban expansion, as well as the remnants of failed efforts to colonize. There is at work a very personal element of memory at work. There is a sense of passing — of time, of identity, of meaning. I enjoy looking at the overlooked. I am inevitably drawn to the places that are manifestly not “picturesque” as these places resonate with memory and loss.
— Randal Barbera, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
When I was younger, I worked overly-complicated projects. My thesis dealt with chaos theory and was criticized as being a mathematical Waiting for Godot. Now I look at simpler things. I am inspired by color field painters, and surrealists as much as landscape photos and paintings. I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping and my dreams and reality are still separate but by a lesser degree than they used to be. I only develop film about once a month and sometimes I see negatives I have only vague memories of shooting and there’s almost no difference between the memory of making the picture and a dream. To me it’s more about the feel of the shapes and the forms than what the actual content is. I think the pictures are uniquely Midwestern but that is by coincidence not intention. When I’m driving around the suburbs of Toledo, Ohio I see a lot of construction. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how but for me the construction sites have something to do with the sense of isolation of the suburbs, the idea that they are in a constant state of expansion is for me disheartening.
— John Walz, Toledo, Ohio
On November 19, 2010, I created New Landscape Photography. A lot has changed since then. I have gone from publishing one image by each artist to featuring three, which I think gives a much fuller introduction to the work. I continue to ask artists to share statements. The blog has become an archive of over 500 statements — and of course, hundreds more images.
I recently decided to invite artists to resubmit work a year after they’ve been featured on the blog. There are many people whose work I published four or five years ago who are now on to new and interesting projects.
In addition to the blog, I created a Facebook group of the same name. It now has almost 2,800 members and is a lively forum for sharing work and ideas.
I’ve always enjoyed the blog’s international flavor, but I am starting a local photography project: to document the billion-dollar renovation in Syracuse of Interstate 81, one of our central highways. This is a group project and is online at Picture81.org. We will share work on Facebook as we develop our individual projects. Later we will approach local galleries and museums about exhibiting the pictures.
This blog would not be possible without the participation of hundreds of artists. Thank you so much! Your enthusiasm and images have lifted my spirits for six years and I hope that will continue for at least another six — in some format or other.
— Willson Cummer, Syracuse, New York
Temporary still lifes
At construction sites in Europe on Sundays, I caught a wonderful art
Everything is constantly changing — between chaos and order,
building, demolition, rebuilding — but there are always moments in
process which exhibit some kind of momentum, perfection
and calmness — moments of rest and a certain romantic presence
between the continuously inexorable changes.
— Ben Gowert, Muenster, Germany
The photobook Abrasion/Sedimentation deals with the construction of place through perceiving geological and semantic layers. The book itself utilizes the process of layering to presage a structural transparency of apparently obvious information. It describes a place and asks the question of its identity and identifiability.
Image and text layer are separated seemingly formal, but penetrate and layer each other associatively. Both layers are beyond the concrete and narrative. They lure the viewer with fragments and snippets, pretend a whole. However, this whole thing is always the product of the individual constructing capacity of the viewer.
Whether the land exists and where it is located is of little relevance. Text and image are abstracted and yet not without detail, thematic focus and realism. Landscape is visible and the attempt to recognize and decipher it is readable.
— Marcus Held, Leipzig, Germany
Mines of the Darwin Quadrangle
The silence is broken only by gusts of wind and the songs of cactus wren and the scrape of rusted metal against metal. Broken glass, bullet casings and rock shards crunch underfoot. Creosote bushes sway in the wind. Brush snags, catches, trips me as I walk. A dust devil whirls sand in my eyes and grit in my mouth. Relentless heat scorches and stifles, yet the sweat evaporates before it cools. My water is hot and does not refresh.
I am exploring an abandoned mine site deep in the remote mountains of the Mojave Desert. Hiking up a rock-strewn, broken trail scratched into the side of the mountain, the truck is left a mile back, the road too dangerous to drive. The site comes into view as I round a bend. Its appearance raises so many questions: What was mined here? Who lived and worked here, and when? Why did they leave? How did they get materials, machinery, fuel, food and water here? Were they lonely in this desolate place?
There is a hole in the ground and a decrepit, bleached ladder drops into the darkness; I cannot tell how deep the shaft is – a dropped rock takes 10 seconds to hit bottom, bouncing against the walls on the way down, taking pebbles with it. There is a weathered wood structure, paint long gone from years of battering winds. Corrugated metal panels, rusted and twisted, lay about and are perforated with shotgun blasts.
There is sadness to the place, a sense of abandoned hope, of brutal, back-breaking work, and of desertion and failure. There is also the knowledge that these structures will inevitably be gone someday, perhaps soon, like the men who built them – the result of weather, vandalism, looting and the neglect of the forgotten.
These photographs can only ask the questions; I have few answers*. I can only hope that in some small way the pictures might illustrate the emotion I feel, the wonder of discovery, the stark beauty and the finality of the place, the hope and the despair, the legacy. If they memorialize the scene, then I have succeeded in some small way.
*Technical records exist that answer some of these questions, for some of the mines: What was mined, how many men worked here, the equipment used, the economic value. It is documented that during the Great Depression of the 1930s many who were displaced and destitute from the economic collapse migrated to public lands and took up mining in an attempt to eke out a living. As the economy shifted for the war effort in the 1940s and the government ordered these small scale mines closed, these subsistence miners abandoned their mines either for more lucrative employment elsewhere, or enlisted in the military – never to return at war’s end. It was the end of an era.
— Marcia Mack, Fountain Valley & Darwin, California, USA
This project focuses on how suffering arises in a person and traces its roots into memories of childhood and youth. It is split up in three parts with each being preluded by a short text. The first part begins with a quote from a La Dispute song and leads into childhood and its playfulness. The definition of “entropy” marks the opening of the second part which deals with the timespan between youth and adulthood. The last part and its explanation of “metaxis” examines a feeling of imbalance and an in-between.
The photographs are intentionally vague and open to allow the viewer to search for their own interpretation or relate to certain emotions. They provoke questions without certain answers to emphasize how memories fade and warp over time. This fallible construct is the base for our feelings and perception of the world around us which thus is in constant change — potentially leading to feelings of tension and ambiguity. We never truly are, but merely exist in an approximation in between our past experiences and those still to come.
— Oliver Wiegner, Bielefeld, Germany