Four Landscapes

"Four Landscapes" is a portfolio of twenty 18"x18" black and white photographs. All prints are details from high speed 35mm negatives and are as a result very grainy. These images are organized into four groups with five photographs in each group. The four groups are to be exhibited sequentially and the complete portfolio is designed to function as a coherent installation. While the literal subject of the portfolio is California, its figurative subject is the psychological location of the natural from the vantage point of the cultural.

The four groups of photographs are as follows:

"Occupied Landscapes: Yosemite," all of these photographs were made in Yosemite National Park and have people in the distance wandering through the natural landscape.

"Isolated Houses: High Desert," all made around Twentynine Palms (a small town in the desert east of Los Angeles) and are of distant isolated houses in the desert landscape

"Stray Dogs: Los Angeles," all photographed in Los Angeles and each image contains a stray dog
"Boats at Sea: Pacific Coast," are all distant boats at sea along the pacific coast.

Each group of photographs constructs an "automatic" landscape. The conditions of each group of photographs requires that a certain object, or event, take place in every image (people, house, dog, boat). The result is a randomly generated description of the environment surrounding the subjects. Together, these four groups constitute a collective master landscape (California) within a metaporical construction addressing a Nature/Culture dynamic.

California has been represented as culture in a natural paradise (mountains, desert, sea). In this environment, culture has now effectively enveloped the natural; yet, we are still driven to get outside, or beyond, the cultural. People wandering in nature, building houses in the desert, taking boats out to sea - these are the literal manifestations of this desire.

Within the contemporary urban reality the natural has become emblematic of transcendence and the vague destination of a general desire to get "outside" or "beyond." However, like the stray dog moving through the city seeking the natural (organic), we carry with us the conditions of our domesticity. The line we desire to cross is always beyond our reach. I am after an opaque manifestation of this condition.

John Divola