Curated by Karen Ingham
Jim Buckley, Tim Davies, Andrew Dodds
Katayoun Pasban Dowlatshahi, Trudi Entwistle
Peter Finnemore, Adam Kalinowski, Jennie Savage, Helen Sear
'There is not one absolute landscape here, but a series of related, if contradictory moments – perspectives which cohere in what can be recognised as a singular form: landscape as a cultural process.'
E. Hirsch, The Anthropology of Landscape: Perspective on Place and Space (1995).
Our lives are inscribed on the surfaces upon which we walk, play, and work. The land as an agricultural process of cultivation, growth, and renewal, is increasingly rare in our urban age superseded (or perhaps only ceded) by the hard-edged, neon lit spaces of the city. Landscape, as Hirsch suggests, is a cultural process; it is this concept of landscape, as a place deeply implicated in the development of memory, identity and belonging, which is represented in the artworks selected here.
Onto the already complex surfaces of the rural and urban environment, we add other layers of meaning, other ontological traces, to the extent that the land becomes palimpsestic, continually re-written yet leaving faint traces of previous forms and inscriptions behind. Landscape, in all its many forms, is not still but subject to continuous flux. Art concerned with the land and with questions of ecology, be it rural or urban spaces, natural or built environments, reflects this process of transformation.
Many of the works are site-specific, as in Tim Davies' cultural and political re-location of a mahogany floor in the Belizean rainforest. Other artforms are 'specific to site', as with Peter Finnemore's photographic works, a reminder of the embeddedness of photography in the construction of 'place'. Artists Helen Sear and Andrew Dodds play with notions of the 'sublime' and Enlightenment landscapes, using photography and digital imaging technologies to create layers of meaning that question historical and cultural concepts of time, space, and the constructed and privileged 'view', just as Jenny Savage uses sound to question concepts of locatedness.
Trudi Entwistle also uses digital and virtual technologies to create eerie electronic landscapes of London's crepuscular spaces, digitally rendered 'safe' through virtual navigation. Other artists demonstrate fragility and ephemerality, as in Jim Buckley's monumental video projection 'Fall', which plays with themes of dis-locatedness and dis-placement, while Katayoun Pasban Dowlatshahi's poetic play on sunlight acts as a reminder of how what could be described as the innocence of light has been clouded by environmental concerns over global warming.
The sheer exuberance and playfulness of Adam Kalinowski's installation 'Sky Reaching Railway Track' signifies arts capacity to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, engendering continual re-invention and re-invigoration. The artists represented here suggest that this re-invigoration and renewal is increasingly interdisciplinary and progressively global.
|A temporary public art project in Cork City, 'Fall' has many meanings. Projected onto a grain silo in a part of the city designated for 'regeneration', the work represents the 'fall' of the physical and social infrastructure of the local community. The grain that was once in the silo has ceased to flow just as the docks - on which the local community relied - have ceased to be economically 'viable'. The projected waterfall seems to bring respite to a run down area, rejuvenation and hope. Yet, 'Fall' is also a reminder that once fallen the flow cannot be reversed. || || |
Llawr Fforestfach: Returned Parquet, 1999
|Originally commissioned as an installation in the Poustinia Earth Art Park in Belize in September 1999, 'Llawr Fforestfach' is a continually evolving artwork subject to environmental and climatic changes and natural processes of transience and transformation. Found in a reclamation yard in Swansea's Fforestfach area, (the Welsh name for 'little forest') the 150 year-old mahogany parquet floor from Central America was shipped back to the Belizean rainforest and subsequently laid in a corridor in the jungle. This insightful intervention is a powerful evocation of Britain's involvement in the colonisation, destruction and exploitation of the land and peoples of Central America. || || |
|In 'Boatbuilding With Tornado', Dodds plays with and appropriates themes from romantic English landscape painting. The digital insertion of the tornado, sourced from US home video footage, is an ironic yet powerful reminder of one of the key features of the Enlightenment, namely, the quest to know and thus control the natural world. The tornado is as yet beyond our control, and as such functions as a metonym for the wild and un-tamed: a stark contrast to the carefully managed landscape depicted in the painting. || || |
|The simplicity of this video belies its complexity, but the title 'Divining Lines' perhaps signifies an underlying meaning. To divine is to discover, by seemingly supernatural means, such as divining for hidden water sources. Although ostensibly about the play of light and its modulating qualities, 'Divining Lines' could be read as a prophetic warning of impending global catastrophe. Will the slow shift from light to darkness, from flow to stillness, create too much water for some and not enough for others? Will our poisoned atmosphere mean the loss of light, presaging a new ice age, or an endless monsoon? || || |
|A collaboration between land artist Trudi Entwistle, Theatre designer Roma Patel and installation artist Graham Nicholls, 'The Living Image' is one of a series of lift commissions exploring the 'poetics of London's urban landscape'. Using virtual reality technologies and interactive 3-D environments, participants are encouraged to enter into a virtual London as seen at night, the time when cities are at their most threatening and un-predictable. Spaces of the city are revealed anew, car parks and urban walkways are projected as benign spaces. Thus transformed, the urban landscape is no longer one of density and oppression but of light and openness. || || |
|Peter Finnemore's photographic artworks are located in and around his family's extended garden in rural West Wales, the home of Finnemore's family for five generations. Describing his practice as 'psycho-geography', referring to the influence of geographical and cultural location on individual perceptions of place and belonging, Finnemore's photographs act as an extended landscape of the mind. The mythical figure of the 'Green Man' is appropriated as a metaphor of rebirth, but also as an eco-warrior, albeit a somewhat playful one in Finnemore's allegorical photographic constructions. || || |
|Kalinowski's installation developed from a childhood love of the miniature electric train and the myriad possibilities of track arrangements, which he considers as a kind of abstract drawing. The relationship of the model to reality and questions of scale and real and imagined worlds are played out in this exuberant artwork which seems to rise skyward, free from the constraints of gravity and logic. The normally mundane and hidden railway track, part of an unseen and unsung landscape, is transformed and becomes, in Kalinowski's words, 'a dramatic point of contact with infinity'. || || |
Out in the World : An Exploration Of the View, 2006
|During the course of Savage's three-months residency at Mduse in Quebec City the weather was particularly cold, rendering an already unfamiliar territory even more so. Experiencing a kind of exile in her room, Savage began to create a sound work based on the panoramic view of the city as seen from her window. With a recorded narration in hesitant French, Savage describes the details of the many small worlds that are glimpsed from the window. The project simultaneously locates and dislocates the participant from the view of the cityscape through the recorded narration and the simultaneous ambient sounds. || || |
|Playing with notions of the Kantian sublime, which is frequently used in relation to the magnitude of nature, Sear's image denies us the pleasure and recognition of the traditional painterly view of the privileged landscape. Her viewer obscures the view - as the title suggests - 'inside' the view, thus frustrating our aesthetic expectations. Layered technologies and layered interpretations coalesce through physical and metaphysical superimposition. The result is disorientating yet dreamlike: a play on the surreal and the virtual 'real'. || || |
Karen Ingham 2008
Karen Ingham is an artist, writer and curator. She also co-ordinates various research centres and initiatives in the Faculty of Art & Design at Swansea Metropolitan University.
Artists' CV & artwork pages
Katayoun Pasban Dowlatshahi