False landscapes and real memories

Dead lakes and seas have become romantic landscapes of the mind. By this we mean that imagery of these blasted environments are regularly served up as both parables and delights, a warning of impending disaster and a guilty thrill for those of us weaned on the romance of ruins and abandoned places. Few places better encapsulate this mix of emotions than Bombay Beach, by California’s Salton Sea. There’s more images here at JPG mag and at Polar Inertia, both of them with richly evocative images of twisted, rusted caravans, abandoned swings and the general aura of decay.

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The post-catastrophe landscape – scoured of the memory of real death and suffering – is now equivalent to the great romantic landscapes. Consider Victoria Ines Dobaño and Rodrigo Terren Toros’s series Villa Epecuen, a moody set of images of an Argentinean lakeside town that was partly submerged in 1985. The same place is captured in Greg Donikian’s flickr set and these photographs by Adrian Markis, where the moody skies and scattered rubble turn a catastrophe into a stage set onto which we can project our own scenarios (the site on Google Earth, a grid pattern marching into the lake).

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Landscape and narrative are interwoven. Increasingly, our imaginary landscapes are virtual ones, and increasingly these virtual realms have largely open narratives and a level of complexity that encourages reflection, drifting, wandering and sight seeing, rather than a linear focus on a task. Seeing these images of The Truffle (Trufa), by Anton Garc’a-Abril (more images), we were instantly reminded not of a real cave, but of the artificial and hugely open world of Minecraft. This is a game we haven’t even played, only read about playing (extensively) and watched oodles of gameplay and other videos.

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These games provide templates. The resulting spaces can be shaped to convey a meaning or mythology, in much the same way that a painting by Poussin or Claud served to both convey myths and legends in a broader context and provide the viewer with a frame for their own speculation. But where a painting induces an emotional response, the immersive quality of a game makes it more So can a sunset in Red Dead Redemption – brilliantly demonstrated in this time lapse video – have the same emotional resonance as a sunset in real life? Is it more of an experience than a sunset in a painting? Increasingly so. By existing in an entirely different space, one in which you are almost wholly immersed, your response to the qualities of landscape, be they romantic, post-apocalyptic or both, are heightened.

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Other things. Reelsoundtrack blog. Music and movies, a helpful resource / iPad as the new Flash / the Sony Walkman is no more. See also the Personal Stereo and Walkman history at Pocket Calculator Show, with plenty more reminiscences / a doll’s house for Clementine / Newell Classic, vintage RVs / photographs by Peter Cornelis / Greatest Hitstory, ‘a basic introduction to the history of music, from the dawn of time to the present day with an emphasis on the best, a kind of greatest hitstory of music – for the novice’.

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L’usine, a blog about architecture and shoes / E.St.Laurent, ‘observations on high art and culture’ / the British Transport Museum at Clapham, found at the extensive Science and Society picture library. See also this short film / Eye Magazine cover archive. Eye Magazine / Send me a postcard darling, an exhibition.

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