Representations Of Landscape Essay

1473 words - 6 pages

Of all the questions that an exhibition focussing on landscape should raise, the most ironic yet fitting one of all would surely be: where indeed, to begin? As I wander through the locations that are represented in this exhibition (all of them scapes of some description) I realise that my response the first instances I gaze, drawn in by the finality of such a thing as a scene with definitive edges; I consider the specificity of each vista. On the third or fourth encounter I begin to glance: my visual experience of these scenes becomes more fleeting and my time in font of them, bound with them, shortens. Of course this is a subjective response, but one which is symptomatic of our western encounter with the natural. Such was the speed that western civilisation moved from the pastoral to the urban as a location for its existence, that the remnants of this great shift (caused in the main by the industrial revolution) are scattered far and wide across our cities and countrysides and lodged within our collective memories. Important also, is the juxtaposition which arose as a result of this shift in relation to vision, in cognizance of the natural and its translation into pictorial forms. This shift can be considered as the aesthetic logic of the gaze (traditional easel painting or tripod mounted cameras ) versus the synthetic philosophy of the glance (snapshot, handheld or abstracted). An obvious example however of the violent clash between the pastoral and urban, is the city park: totemic keepsake of the natural, whose function is in part to preserve our encounter with nature. Gardens and allotments have similar functions for today's psycho-metabolism, allowing us to connect, like the archaeologist, with our collective past, or what Marx would call ‘species being’, by digging holes in the loose earth for home grown vegetables, and watering potted plants.

The natural is planted firmly in our collective unconscious and the roots of our separate individualities. This not least, upholds a lasting appetite for our engagement with and consumption of representations of the ‘landscape’. Of all the major themes in art, the landscape is perhaps the most covertly sociologically and politically woven of all. Thus, I find the title of this exhibition to be particularly fitting. The landscape in all its forms, whether actual or political, geographic, economic, or deemed to be picturesque, has been impacted upon by the nature of humanity since pre-history to the present day. All of these relationships and more are present in the works on display in this exhibition, which itself testifies to the complexity of the unassuming naturescape. Our personal and social histories are inseparable from the natural world we inhabit.

Human / Nature is an exhibition spanning fifteen years of art production,1 containing the representation of the Irish Landscape specifically. More generally, the exhibition testifies to a range of instances in art...

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