The ongoing project ‘Vertigo’ is a personal quest to reproduce the mountainlandscape into a photograph. The title vertigo, should not be understood in the meaning of fear of hights but as a reference to the 19th century longing to visit the mountains. At first the bourgeoisie travelled through pictures before setting out themselves to admire the sublime beauty they heard so much about. Only few actually climbed up to reach the summit, in stead, most people stayed safely in the valleys. Pioneer photographers had great difficulty to capture the wide spectrum of the mountainrange and had to be very creative with technique and in ways of exhibitioning their photographs to satisfy the high expectations of the public. The wild mountainlandscape, of for example the Alps, did not fit into the picturesque composition photography so well adapted to.
In ‘Experiments in the Alps’ (2015) I try out several approaches that stress the struggle of the medium with the translation of the mountainexperience into a fixed frame.
For the composed landscapes I used Photoshop to combine a number of pictures taken in the same area. The program automatically fits a random selection together and presents a point of view that does not exist. The act of creating a new landscape that cannot be found refers to the (im)possibility to photograph a mountainview. The vertical panorama’s, on the contrary, were deliberately photographed as a panoramic view. Large panorama’s were very popular in the 19th century as a way for the photographer to demonstrate the grandour of the mountains and for the public as entertainment.
Other photographs of this series reflect the importance of the weather and the sky in a photographic landscape to set a certain atmosphere for the viewer. The absence of all sensations (except for the visual) in photography requires a personal effort of the viewer to imagine more than what the camera could register. Therefore I also combine still images with movement. Again to include the desire for other sensations. Where the 19th century public was under the spell of stereoscopic views, the contemporary spectator likes the image to move.
Some of my photographs are failed pictures with for example a huge amount of useless lens flair or that look like a cliché postcard. I like to underline the importance of the experiment where the mistakes are sometimes more interesting for the research than that one perfect shot. The landscapestrips show all my attempts to capture the ideal representation of a perticular mountain coming into sight.
‘Gwynedd’ (2016) departs from an identical idea, the same search for a way to frame the highlands of Wales.
The constantly changing weather in the UK defines the landscape so profoundly that it almost takes the upperhand in all photographs. Besides the panoramic views, the other works can be considered mainly as cloudstudies. There is no doubt that my tour of William Turner’s paintings in the London museums were of great influence on my work at that moment. Turner’s skies determine the entire atmosphere and comprehension of the painted landscape. The meteorological conditions and direct, or accentuated, reflection on the land brings the experience of the landscape to life.
Perticular for the province of Gwynedd during my stay was the impenetrable fog. By times the landscape was so much hidden from view that it was impossible to see any further than a lousy ten metres. Walking, getting through the landscape and photographing it becomes a whole new experience in the thick fog. John’s warning not to get lost proved itself to be the truth.