Nature’s Gaze Within the Urban Landscape
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I photographed this recent, ongoing series in various areas of Albania’s capital, my current home. I aim to present viewers with everyday sights of natural and urban elements, in what appear as harmonic coexistences. The city vegetation, with its humble, yet ever-changing gaze, seems to show itself as a passing-by visitor to Tirana’s landscapes. I would like to believe that it patiently waits for a moment and an opportunity to take over.
— Kinga Owczennikow, Tirana, Albania
The Mother Road
Route 66, the mother road, runs alongside Interstate Highway 40 as it crosses the country east to west. In my teens and early twenties I came to know 66 while going back and forth between Chicago and LA, traveling by car, bus and thumb. It was two lanes of asphalt then, carrying us through endless Midwest farmland, slowly giving way to the desert and its old west culture before we finally crossed the Colorado River into the palm tree’d wonders of California. It was thousands of miles filled with adventure and discovery for a green Chicago kid.
Traveling the road now, I glimpse the things I once saw fresh. Aged by time and removed from the present they take me back, and open the storerooms of my memory.
— Andy Romanoff, Los Angeles
My Wintertag (winter day) series is about the winter landscape in Japan. It is an ongoing project, started in January 2014. These are photos at the foot of Mount Fuji and in my hometown (central Kanagawa prefecture, an area along the Sagami River).
Lake Yamanaka at the foot of Mount Fuji is approximately 70km distance from my hometown. Where I live it rarely snows, but Lake Yamanaka freezes every year.
In November 2016 it snowed for the first time in 54 years in my hometown. Lake Yamanaka is the source of the Sagami River and it is the only lake that empties into the rivers among the Five Lakes of Mount Fuji.
These landscapes are simplified by snow and I also tend to express simply and minimally.
— Masato Ninomiya, Kanagawa, Japan
In my Miroirs aux Alouettes series, begun in 2016, I create impossible images, close to surrealism, by placing stickers in public or an exhibition space.
By confusing the real and its double, I question the limits of image and representation. I revisit the notion of perspective, trompe-l’oeil and mise-en-abyme.
Originally thought to be photographs, my images also work as installations.
—Olivier Lovey, Martigny, Switzerland
I think it is good to make photographs that may appear to have no deeper meaning or greater significance than the thoughtful examination of the subject.
I am delighted when a viewer understands my interpretation and agrees with my conclusion, but I am not disappointed if they do not. Realizing a mutually-meaningful aesthetic experience remains an elusive goal.
If my image makes some connection with a viewer and engages their imagination, I feel my photograph has successfully touched them.
— Donald J. McKenna, St. Louis, Missouri
One of my favorite texts, as an architect, is Martin Heidegger’s Building Dwelling Thinking. It asserts that without buildings we can’t really experience the world. The pause and refuge buildings provide give us orientation in a landscape, allowing us to “dwell” there. Buildings make landscapes meaningful to us.
Many old structures at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico — where Georgia O’Keeffe lived, painted and immortalized the incredible landscape — clearly demonstrate Heidegger’s poetic thesis. On the other hand, a group of mid-century bunkhouses I came across during a recent visit to Ghost Ranch are buildings few would accuse of adding any meaning to the landscape. What are in one sense jarringly banal structures also happen to be thoughtful designs in the best traditions of modernism: climate-attuned, economical, cleverly winking toward both old west grit and Palm Springs modern. Their peculiar relationship to the landscape only makes them more interesting to me.
— Larry Sykes, Denver, Colorado
Nine years ago I founded the New Landscape Photography blog. It continues to bring me joy to share the work of talented contemporary artists.
As social media has taken over the photo-sharing world, I have fewer submissions and so am posting less frequently. But I believe my blog continues to be an excellent place for those who want to present multiple images and an artist statement for a project.
— Willson Cummer, Fayetteville, New York
PS: I made the picture above at Canal Landing, a small park near my home.
I made these photographs in New Orleans the summer of 2018 during my pilgrimage to see Lee Friedlander’s work at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I am drawn to color, space, geometry, and perspective. I strive to have these elements working in tandem in photographs. Additionally, I like to underscore the ephemeral nature of the everyday scenes before us. A photograph is a recording of time, but that image may no longer be present when we view the photograph. Buildings crumble; water fades paint. The title for this series of images is New Orleans.
— John Kinney, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
What interest me most are not specific buildings or landmarks, but the lived experiences of the people who interact with them. The built environment has an essential role in shaping a particular society or culture.
The growth of global populations has led to rapid urbanization and the emergence of megacities. The challenges that societies face in adapting to rapid change – both socially and environmentally, but also philosophically and psychologically – is what drives my interest in this dynamic field.
Our “developed” cities are increasingly homogenous spaces. It’s become hard to differentiate one central business district of an urban centre from another. Consumerism, fast entertainment, fast food and multinational corporations are often what underpin our notions of progress.
Nonetheless, hyper-globalization has enabled the rapid sharing of information and ideas around the globe, as well as making transportation more accessible.
I am fascinated with modernity and its environmental and social consequences.
Ultimately, it is the visual nuances that can be found between locations rich and poor, natural and manmade, past and present, that, if you look closely enough, offer an insight into what it means to be a human on this rapidly-changing planet. A book about this work will soon be published by Black Dog Press.
— Ryan Koopmans, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Looking Out, a project in progress, continues my exploration of the way in which modern technology and machinery are often seen as disruptive of “nature” as a retreat from the urban environment. Obvious examples that attract “our” disapproval are structures such as pylons, cell-phone masts and wind turbines. These (from one perspective at least) tend to be regarded as a blight when found in otherwise “untainted” countryside.
The structures in this series are associated with detection. The radars and telescopes in the work look out from their rural location. The notion of an escape to the countryside is always at odds with a desire to maintain some distance, to objectify and see the non-urban from a subjective vantage point.
As landscapes, these images offer some resistance to this kind of mastery. On the one hand, they gaze out with authority to places beyond our human eye capability. On the other, they collapse into a trope of Picturesque charm. Technology is only disruptive of idealised “nature” when its associations are with contemporary life. Technology with a patina of age has the potential to be absorbed into the bucolic.
Even in the case of the functioning radars and radio telescopes, in their countryside setting they begin to remind us of a certain sub-genre of British science fiction; and as such they too begin to invite a nostalgic desire for the past. In a way, these images represent a tussle between our desire to maintain our ocular advantage (and see the landscape in a way that serves our needs) and our preparedness to give ground and relinquish our self-affirming vantage point.
— Roger Hopgood, Hastings, United Kingdom