This third volume of Naturally Hypernatural explores contemporary concepts of landscape in the humanities and the arts in relation to the notion that our age is defined by a ‘geology of the human’ and that this reckoning constitutes a new epoch, aptly named the anthropocene.
The thesis of this volume – that there is no homogeneous concept of landscape, just as there is no uniform definition of nature or culture – was developed concurrently at a conference at the University of Graz and at a series of exhibitions centered on film, painting and photography at the Kunsthaus Graz. This thesis has been fortified by registering the simultaneity of land art, the ecological movement and the view of the earth from space.
Art since the modern period reveals how divergent ideas of landscape are intertwined with differently chanted conceptions of subjectivity, perception and space.
Robert Smithson: Writing Landscape
The configuration and representation of nature, space, architecture, and objects as landscape always involves an intended, reflexive relationship of human beings to their environment. Since the 18th century, landscape represents as an innovative concept one of the most influential phenomena in the arts, the constituents of which can change and the prerequisites and relevance, values, and attributions of which are always shifting. Indeed, as early as the late Middle Ages landscape meant a spatial unity and as of the 16th century, viewed nature, which can also include that created by human hand. Also in painting,1 landscapes devoid of people appear even before the Modern – particularly in the Flemish School of the 17th century. Eventually, in particular in Dutch and English at the time, the term constitutes a generic expression for the fine arts.2 There is therefore an early, minimal consensus regarding landscape as pictorial genre, picture detail, viewed scenery. However, in the full programmatic extent of the concept, landscape is only conceivable when nature becomes reality, or – as Eckhard Lobsien puts it – when nature becomes a part of reality.3 That is, when it becomes changeable and contingent.
Differences in dealing with landscape appear quite early, such as between Albrecht Dürer’s ‘scientific-dissecting’ and Albrecht Altdorfer’s idealized landscapes, as also between the objective, ‘realistic’ pictures with the distinctive design of the Flemish and the fantastic sceneries of Annibale Carracci or Nicolas Poussin. The ideal, ‘pure’, aesthetic form of the landscape of the...
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