On a recent trip to DC, I visited the Corcoran Gallery and found three separate exhibitions that all referenced or dealt directly with landscape experiences. Each of which was as intriguing as they were different and were not equally successful.
In the rotunda of the Corcoran was a multi-media display that excited my eye and still resonants in my mind. The light and audio display of Jennifer Steinkamp and Jimmy Johnson were very compelling to both myself and my 8 year old daughter, with whom I played shadow games, and the other patrons who danced through the rotunda as their shadows interrupted the light projections.
This was a landscape experience for me. It referenced centuries of garden design, which employed the rhythm of the multiple figurative sculptures to establish spatial patterns and scale in large landscapes. This piece entitled Loop, created its own expanse of landscape. The shadows of a singular sculpture in the rotunda's center punctuated the light from the four projectors, thus replicating the rhythm of a larger outdoor garden. Inserting the user’s shadows in Loop's colorful digital environment animated the rotunda and invited repeated user involvement, just ask my daughter.
American Metal: The metal work of Albert Paley is stunning, especially the early ornamental gate work.
The detail in the metal and the lush organic quality is so exceptional that I strained not to touch it. The combinations of forged and fabricated steel and brass, bronze, and copper was riveting to the eye. As someone who has designed gates for clients I found great inspiration in Paley’s work. His very large fabricated sculptures and the process that created them from drawing to paper mock-ups was equally compelling.
America Metal, a retrospective of Albert Paley and Plein Air by Mark Tribe, below, can be seen at http://www.corcoran.org/exhibitions.
In Plein Air Mark Tribe references the history of landscape painting as follows:
"…..these new images were created in the studio with appropriated software that uses geospatial data and fractal algorithms to create digital simulations of real landscapes. Plein Air—a French expression that refers to painting outdoors in the open air—alters our perceptions, presenting outdoor landscapes from a “drone’s eye view,” a mechanic perspective that is playing an increasingly important role in contemporary culture. Working indoors, Tribe pictures a computer-generated world in which familiar environments appear distant, almost foreign. Unlike traditional depictions of landscapes in art, these aerial views abstract what we know; they do not reproduce our “natural” terrestrial viewpoint."
They were big and bold, but also flat in appearance and tone, and to my eye not abstract enough or significantly different from any aerial image to render them very interesting for long. So they fell short in changing my perspective of the aesthetics of a landscape or the method of articulating a landscape as an art work.
Terrence Parker, Landscape Architect