The Iterated Landscape
Photographs by Dick Lane
iteration |ˌitəˈrā sh ən|
noun – the repetition of a process or utterance.
• repetition of a mathematical or computational procedure applied to the result of a previous application, typically as a means of obtaining successively closer approximations to the solution of a problem.
Traditionally, landscape photography is generally thought of in terms of “straight” or “un-manipulated” photographic imagery where the subject is more or less a “beautiful vista.” In the field of Fine Art photography the landscape has been a significant source of subject matter since the mid 1800s. It was the photographs of Carlton E. Watkins from his 1861 expedition in to the Yosemite Valley that played an essential role in the valley being declared a National Park in 1864. Fellow photographer Timothy O’Sullivan helped document the United States government’s expansion in to the western territories as a photographer for Geological Survey while photographing the 40th Parallel. It was the images from these photographers that greatly influenced one of the most important image-makers from last century, Ansel Adams. All of these photographers shared a common aesthetic that would become known as “straight photography.” Essentially, this referred to the fact that the images for the most part were not highly manipulated in the dark room and the resulting print showed extremely sharp focus though out. In fact Adams practice of “Pre-Visualization” would become the dominant aesthetic in photography circles from the 1930s through the 1950s and beyond. Pre-Visualization was the act of looking through the cameras lens to imagine the image, as it would appear in the finished print.
In the 1960s a competing philosophy to the straight aesthetic took rise in photographer Jerry Uelsmann. Uelsmann delivered a paper in 1967 to the Society for Photographic Education regarding his philosophy on photographic practice called “Post Visualization.” Post Visualization’s main tenet is that there is no reason that with the squeezing of the shutter button that the creative consciousness should be put to rest and that we should not be bound by pre-visioned ends so that one can remain open to “in-process discovery.”
In-process discovery is not limited to the darkroom or computer but also extends to “post darkroom or post computer darkroom” via print manipulation as well. It is with these historical underpinnings that I make photographs.
My project starts with a deep and abiding love of nature, the land, its flora & fauna and the stories it can tell. I use the landscape as a starting point that is inclusive of the traditional “straight” photographic landscape as well as a large number of “iterations” of those images by manipulations via hand work (painting and drawing on top of the image) and abstraction through manipulation via software. The group of images on display for the Exit gallery is from a portion of the larger body of work. This group falls under the “Frames of Reference” suite of images. This suite features the more highly manipulated images. These are “iterated” through Photoshop and many of the actual prints have drawing and painting applied on the surface. My reach may well exceed my grasp in trying to cover so much ground (pun intended). Ultimately, it is my hope that the resulting images call into question the viewer’s concepts of beauty, the veracity of the photographic image and the nature of perception.
Dick Lane was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1958. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Art and the Photography Lab Coordinator at Texas Christian University where has been since 1989. He received his BFA from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1983 and went on to receive his MFA from the University of Florida in 1985. His work has incorporated many different styles and themes over the course of his career and most recently involves the landscape and the infinite possibilities it represents.
It was in Florida where he honed his knowledge and practice of highly manipulated forms of photographic imagery. He was influenced deeply there by highly regarded educators Jerry Uelsmann, Evon Streetman and Wallace Wilson.
Dick began teaching Fine Art Photography at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1986 before moving to his current position at Texas Christian University in 1989. His photographs have been in over 50 group and solo exhibitions and are in several private and museum collections nationally and internationally.