“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.’’
— Albert Schweitzer
The argument of nature’s resource exploitation and excavation, as well as the destruction and environmental devastation of landscapes, has long been one of high concern. However the environmental effects of this are not always so visible or apparent. The power of images has proven itself many times, through either activism or conservation photography in the style of photojournalism or documentation. Photography influences the viewer’s mind and teaches about the issues presented in the image — it is the idea that it portrays something real and therefore true, and inherently has the ability to document a perceived reality.
The series Iceland is a prime example of the type of landscape documentary that is so fundamental to raising awareness about environmental degradation. Iceland is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet. The glaciers that cover more than 10 percent of the island are losing an average of 11 billion tons of ice a year.
Driving around the south coast of Iceland, I have witnessed the immense retreat of glaciers, revealing only gravel for miles, creating a different kind of landscape: new black lava cliffs. Climate change is heavily affecting Iceland as it is rising due to the accelerated melting of ice caps, resulting in the uplifting from the Earth at a rate of up to 1.4 inches per year, causing more and more volcanic eruptions.
Through photographic documentation, I hope to reveal the immense beauty that is Iceland, so unique and other worldly, to raise awareness for this diminishing and ever-changing country.
— Elena Cremona, London
Whole is a contemplative photographic narrative from natural places. When alone off paths in natural places I experience a personal tranquility and an opportunity for quiet introspection. The forest, its rivers and the sea speak to me about life in all of its glory and all of its sadness. I sense the existence of parallels between the mysteries I feel there and the puzzles of my own life. I find the discourse calming. I take pleasure from the personal insight and enigmatic impressions I gain from these special occasions.
— Ken Hochfeld, Portland, Oregon, USA
I am interested in transition. I see and try to absorb the landscape, rural and urban, my garden, the forest, the wide open, the horizon. Sometimes I respond to the formal aspects of design placed within or possibly growing out of a landscape, at other times I try to make some sense of the apparent chaos in nature and respond to that challenge. In observing these transitions, I seek out the history, the future and the things that seem to be hanging in between or simply the here and now – the present but changing state.
These images show a coal mine which closed over thirty years ago. The mine is a museum, the community has just about gone and slowly the houses are being boarded up to prior to their destruction, finally being crushed to become hardcore, forming a new seam of solid foundation to support a luxury housing landscape.
— Terence Lane, Nottingham, England
The project Versilaina originates from the observation of the landscape near the place where I live, a close exploration of more or less familiar places. Walking is the essential instrument for this process, as a primary symbolic action aimed at transforming the space surrounding us; walking as an esthetic practice as well as a possibility of establishing new relationships with the landscape around us.
— Luca Moretti, Pisa, Italy
These images are from a series of photographs of Denge, the swamped site of the poignant ruins of three concrete ears used to detect aircraft for a few months in 1932, until radar and gravel extraction left them to drown. It is part of the larger sparsely populated and hyper-fertile Romney Marsh, which harbours a discordant smattering of sonic, nautical, aeronautical, industrial, logistical, military, botanical, and inexplicable relics and activities.
— Pessons Vest, Brighton, England
Two years ago, I found myself living in the middle of Bergen County and struggling to make sense of it.
Bergen County is the most populous county in New Jersey, the most densely-populated state in the United States. Located in the northeastern corner of the state, Bergen County is part of the New York City Metropolitan Area (unless you’re a New Yorker), and is situated directly across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.
It’s a strange place — the county has the strictest blue laws in the country (all non-essential commerce is banned on Sunday), no one uses their turn signals, and most people commute into New York City. Bergen county is home to the town of Paramus, the largest shopping destination in the country. Paramus’ zip code (07652) generates over five billion dollars in annual retail sales, even though all of the stores are closed on Sunday.
— Andrew Frost, Teaneck, New Jersey, USA
The T7 line connects Villejuif to Athis Mons and carries about 30,000 people a day. The French landscape that flows beyond the windows marks the daily life of its people and determines its rhythm.
The succession of images during the route create a constantly moving urban landscape, whose outlines are not well defined.
Our sight — and therefore the camera — captures everything that appears in front of us without the time to provide a selection. It’s not the aesthetic beauty of the place that moves us, rather it’s the several sets that appear and disappear by simply leaving elusive, yet recognizable tracks — since they belong to our visual and mental knowledge.
Roads, parking lots, malls, offices, hotels, work and leisure places impose themselves in what seems at first an insignificant scene, giving life to a sort of game in which one tries to put together the several visual pieces of a story that repeats itself but which constantly changes at the same time.
— Roberto Bianchi, Sanremo, Italy
For me every river is more than just one river. Every rock is more than just one rock.
It is a fact that a realtor looks across an open field and sees comfortable homes, while a farmer sees endless rows of wheat and a hunter sees a prey unaware of his presence. The open field is the same physical thing, but it carries multiple symbolic meanings that come from the values by which people define themselves.
For this reason, my work is an exploration of the landscape as the symbolic environment created by a human act of conferring meaning on nature. My attention is directed to transformation of the physical environment into landscapes that reflect people’s definitions of themselves and how these landscapes are reconstructed in response to people’s changing definitions of themselves.
Espacio Disponible focuses on the transformation of the physical environment into man-altered landscapes and how these landscapes define our culture and lifestyle. I consider that our understanding of nature and of human relationships with the environment are really cultural expressions used to define who we were, who we are and who we hope to be at this place and in this space. Landscapes are the reflection of these cultural identities which are about us, rather than the natural environment.
— Mónica Ortega, Murcia, Spain
All of these pictures were taken within two miles of my suburban home in Evanston, Illinois. Evanston and other nearby suburbs are often used as a backdrop in popular films, notably John Hughes’s movies, to represent typical American life. Our mental representations of American suburbs are tied to our ideas of safety, conformity, and quality of life. It’s not my intention to change these notions, but to explore and complicate their contours through pictures.
— Maxwell Ross, Evanston, Illinois, USA
The nature elements and its processes are the starting subject of my photographic work. I dive into the relationship of Human to Nature, the modern subject-object binomial and the physical absence of the human element in the searching of the resonance that emptiness produce are some of the characteristics of my photography.
I like the artisan character, intense and serene rhythm imposed by analogue photography and the medium and large format cameras . A state of full consciousness as to what the “photographic moment ” means. The physical-chemical film and handling characteristics are an important part, too, in the production process of my photographs.
— Agustín David, Alicante, Spain
“A town like Sheffield assumes a kind of sinister magnificence.” – George Orwell
Sheffield is a town with its identity forged from its industrial past. This project stands as a testimony to this; an account of the defining structural elements that shape a city. In this series the pragmatic yet intimate nature of the images project the effect of the grind of industry over the city of Sheffield.
— Leticia Batty, London
I am interested in surfaces and their relationship to what lies beneath – the discrepancy between what we see and what we know. I am drawn to photography because of its ubiquitous presence in our culture and its duplicitous existence as both an indexical representation of reality and a subjective construction of it. It is a slippery medium that easily shifts from scientific documentation of a moment in time to a subjective construction of reality. I am interested in the space where these qualities contradict each other and coexist simultaneously.
My current work focuses on the dichotomy between “landscape” (an intangible vista) and “place” (a tactile, inhabitable space). I am interested in the aesthetic framing of the landscape of the American West that perpetuates expansionist ideologies through the representation of unoccupied, and seemingly unoccupiable spaces. By disrupting the photographic image through physical interventions (folding, cutting, and sewing), my work responds to the limitations of the photographic illusion. Each image holds the tension between the expansive, inaccessible vista and the intimate, tactile experience of the photo-object.
— Millee Tibbs, Detroit, Michigan, USA
The MAP 454 project was designed based on the hypothesis that photography produce micro stories that can provide readings on global phenomena, including a critical reading of the idea of the contemporary landscape.
The initial premise was that within the limits of topographic map 454 of the Cartographic Army Services it would be possible to identify sites with specific geographical features which had in common the possibility of a reflection and a look at the phenomena of land occupation, urban sprawl and the resulting consequences on the landscape.
That map is bordered to the north by the A2 motorway, to the west by the village of Quinta do Conde and other neighboring localities, to the east the area between Palmela and Setúbal and to the south by the Serra da Arrábida.
From this initial idea, the MAP 454, I have so far produced three works: AUGI 12 ( 2012) which focuses on one of the existing illegal settlements in the area, The Moor – Várzea ( 2012/2013 ) a reflection that aims to highlight the relations between rural and urban world in the floodplain of Setúbal and Suburban Gardens – Nas Hortas (2013/2014), which deals with the phenomenon of suburban gardens and its impact on the landscape.
— Fernando Brito, Vila Fresca Azeitão, Portugal
It is strange to think when you don’t want to think at all. This happens every time when I’m alone, when I’m inside myself with me and only with me… but I create thinking without thinking about what I do, lulled by the colors of the music in me, out of me, around me.
I love this song “Jessica” and the voice of Kaki King. It’s perfect, and in perfect harmony with the colours, with the photos, with the sheets of paper, with the scissors and the glue. It’s delicate and strong. My knots that melt into a black lake of rage and love… the seasons are too short and too long and I don’t have enough sheets to draw them.
— Claudio Parentela, Catanzaro, Italy
The Milan area at the time of the expo.
This project comes from the observation of the towns that are lived only as dormitories. There are spaces created for entertainment and leisure, children’s playground and soccer fields. The absence of users makes these spaces ghostly, vacuum.
During the week, people move to the big city, Milan, emptying the small towns in the hinterland, where space is filled with palaces and buildings that stand out on the fields. The sense of abandonment of certain areas and the neglect of its people gives these places a post-apocalyptic look, where the values of the company are evident and oriented consumerism.
— Carlo Massarutto, Milan, Italy