film, travel, narratives, installation

RESEARCH // SPECULATIVE

This ongoing body of research analyses how the American West landscape manifests itself throughout classical landscape painting and contemporary road movies. Stemming from personal observations, experiences and interests, this line of enquiry argues that the spatial relationship between an observer and the landscape is defined in large part by the method of journeying across it. 

 

As though an extension of ones body, the vehicle in which journeys across the vast American West are taken transform to becoming mediums by which notions of control and physical dominion over the landscape are represented. The depiction of these great trajectories and the sense of speed, measure, distance and cartography throughout the history of American visual arts can ultimately be seen to reflect upon the political, social and cultural landscapes as much as they do the physical geography itself.

 

Beginning its genesis as simple on-the-road diary observations and wandering thoughts promulgated by influential texts such as Jean Baudrillard's 'America', Rebecca Solnit's 'River of Shadows' and Paul Virilio's 'Speed and Politics', our study evolved to establishing a connection between the stylistic and thematic qualities of the road movie genre found in the films Easy Rider and Vanishing Point with the work of the mid-19th century landscape artist Albert Bierstadt. 

 

By considering speed and mobility as a key topics that define our understanding of landscape in both film and painting, it is the object of the vehicle that provides the mediation between passenger and landscape as a distinctly architectural instrument. Finally, in relation to the larger social and political messages underlying these art forms, the project suggests that the experiential and spatial understanding of such a journey embodies an understanding of the American notion of freedom and democracy, as well as an equally relevant understanding of the physical iconography of the vehicle speeding through the landscape.