I went to a conference recently and learnt about the changing landscape. I think of the term often in my own practice and I wondered if it might be a reference to environmental changes; climate change, deforestation, destruction of wilderness, the ever expanding suburbs, sea level rise and the erosion of our coast which is paramount in my work. Alternatively it might have been in a ‘then and now’ context like the much inspiring work of Mark Klett making new landscape photographs from the same place as an historical photograph from 100 years ago or more, using the same focal length of lens, same angle of view, same time of year, time of day etc and adding the original historic black and white image to the new colour one to demonstrate how that landscape has changed through time; the image below is by Mark Klett. This use of the changing landscape is also becoming a major part of my practice as I explore and research the history of where I live in North Devon. My most recent work uses old postcard images from the Beaford Old Archive as a basis for making new work. My intention is to bring the ghosts of the past to life by leaving literal ghost like images from the old pictures in the new photographs. These will initially be show as handmade postcards in the Bideford / Manteo Postcard Exchange in the Burton Art Gallery, Bideford, Devon and the Dare County Arts Gallery in Manteo, North Carolina during June 2011. Below is Northan Village / Northam Town from this work.I have been reading Richard Louv’s ‘Last Child in the Woods’ and it had occurred to me that the changing landscape referred to how children don’t play outdoors anymore. The landscape of nature with trees to climb, meadows to run in, mountains to conquer and secret caves to explore has been changed to flickering screen to passively sit in front of at best get a second-hand audio-visual of the landscape outside.
However, it seems that ‘landscape’ is becoming a rare word in ‘art speak’ today, with its original meaning and context. The changing landscape in the conference I attended referred to the economy and essentially how art institutions will have less money in the future.