Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Man's Fascination with Landscapes  (Read 5637 times)
Goldilocks
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 88


WWW
« on: March 13, 2008, 04:49:57 PM »
ReplyReply

Riding along the switchback roads of the mountains of California, in the bay area of San Francisco, Mill Valley, Marin to be exact, I encountered a piece of property on the top of the mountain where a multi-million dollar house was being built by the owner whom is an engineer. The workers commented to me that this was an extremely difficult house to build. While I drove past many of the these properties in a completed stage, it was this one that was still being built on "prime" property, that caught my deeper conscious to ask "Why is man so fascinated with landscapes and views, that he will conquer any challenge to attain that view?"

Believing that I can't be the first person to ask this question, I tried searching on the web for someone else's view on this. While I found information, books and essays on landscape photography and landscape in art I realized that my question was much more universal. Yes, we say there is a spiritual element in Chinese landscapes, a connection to nature in paintings and photography, a controllng power element for military-- the forts and castles, the highly appraised market value for real estate, but why? Why is man so drawn to this?

Why do we pay top dollar for the land? Why do we battle to climb, hike, engineer, conquer and own just for a "view". Why do I struggle to conquer the challenge of capturing the time and space of a view in painting and photography? These are not just serparate questions, but one big complex question.

I have been a landscape painter and photographer for 40 years. Past 10 years I have been unable to physically engage in this challenge do to an injury. Finally starting to recover and begin the challenges of travel, hiking and capturing nature, I am now beginning to ask this universal question. I realize it is not just me and my preferences in life of what I like, but rather something that almost all of mankind shares.

Anyone who would like to join me on on a journey to understand man's fascination with landscapes and the challenge to conquer them (physically, artisically, militarilly, and financially - did I leave something out?), I'd be happy to hear your point of view. Please feel free to provide links to books, blogs, videos etc. Maybe someone has already come up with a really good answer, and I just haven't heard it.

Linda
(Goldilocks)
Logged
wolfnowl
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5698



WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2008, 11:26:09 PM »
ReplyReply

Hi Linda:

I'd suggest reading 'Biophilia' by Edward Wilson.  You may find some answers there...

Mike.
Logged

If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
~ Jean Cooke ~


My Flickr site / Random Thoughts and Other Meanderings at M&M's Musings
Eric Myrvaagnes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 7790



WWW
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2008, 09:59:49 AM »
ReplyReply

Linda,

My first response, as a long-time lover of landscapes, was to repeat the quote attributed to Satchmo about Jazz: "If I have to explain it, you ain't never going to understand it."  It's definitely a raw emotional thing with me, but I don't have any good answers. I hope this thread will generate some.

Eric
Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
bob mccarthy
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 372


WWW
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2008, 10:34:00 AM »
ReplyReply

No doubt it is an emotional thing. Those of us who live in large cities (DFW in my case) in less than interesting topography can use photography to revisit areas that inspire and refresh.

There is also the educational side, visiting lands too far and too time consuming to engage on a first hand basis.

Video also works the same magic.

Refreshes the soul.

bob
Logged
blansky
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 155


« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2008, 11:42:46 AM »
ReplyReply

I don't see a need to understand it, overthink it or analyse it. It's primal. We like it and we need it. It makes us feel good so enjoy it.

Michael
Logged
Lisa Nikodym
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1702



WWW
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2008, 01:14:40 PM »
ReplyReply

A couple of thoughts related to your questions, though not necessarily related to each other:

Regarding why people seem to want so much to live where the best landscapes and views are, I believe it must be related to cultural traits from back in the days when most people were farmers (I'm including livestock raising here), and having good land to farm was of vastly more importance to one's prosperity than it is today to urban and suburban dwellers.  This led to an almost irrational (at least to us urban moderns) attachment to one's land, and a desire to have the best land possible.  It becomes "my land", and the land is permanent in a way that houses, cars, and other things inhabited by people aren't.

For the importance that landscape holds for cultural identity and human history, there's a marvelous book called "Landscape and Memory" by Simon Schama.  Since you're interested in the topic, I highly recommend it.

Lisa
Logged

Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12215


« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2008, 05:37:27 AM »
ReplyReply

I think that the question is very wide and not really part of any homogeneous whole as the OP suggested it might be.

Regarding the prime site for a house, supposedly up on top of a hill, that is, I think, far more connected to oneīs own nature and the need to proclaim that one is king of the castle: the higher I go, the better than you am I. Where we live, there is a range of mountains running along one side of the island. Planning permission is now (thank goodness) getting very tight and those houses already built up on the lower slopes of these rises are changing hands for millions of Euros a pop. It is all about income and status. Value for money is not a consideration, because the percentage of total cost in merely creating the underpinnings for what becomes the habitable space above makes a nonsense of the maths.

It is all ego. And, I suppose, if you can finance it, why not, even if it does become a blot on the landscape? Anotherīs perceived blot is your palace.

From the artistic point of view, as in putting images on paper, perhaps the reason it is popular is that it is relatively easy to do. Who can tell if you have effed up? With people shots your errors are immediately visible, so avoid that and shoot something that canīt complain sounds a safer bet. This is not a slur on landscape photographers - some are very good indeed,being blessed with eye. Some even have expensive cameras with which to make that eye shine a little more brightly... but thatīs another thread.

Perhaps itīs  because everybody else does that kind of thing on holiday that it becomes the normal thing to do when you own a camera. Strange.

Rob C
Logged

Geoff Wittig
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1017


« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2008, 01:34:07 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
A couple of thoughts related to your questions, though not necessarily related to each other:

Regarding why people seem to want so much to live where the best landscapes and views are, I believe it must be related to cultural traits from back in the days when most people were farmers (I'm including livestock raising here), and having good land to farm was of vastly more importance to one's prosperity than it is today to urban and suburban dwellers.  This led to an almost irrational (at least to us urban moderns) attachment to one's land, and a desire to have the best land possible.  It becomes "my land", and the land is permanent in a way that houses, cars, and other things inhabited by people aren't.

For the importance that landscape holds for cultural identity and human history, there's a marvelous book called "Landscape and Memory" by Simon Schama.  Since you're interested in the topic, I highly recommend it.

Lisa
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181475\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, but...
The landscapes that appeal to farmers have essentially nothing in common with those we photographers love. For example, I live in the western Finger Lakes region in rural New York state. Around here the good farmland is the photographically uninteresting valley-bottom land. It's extremely fertile glacial runoff, but flat as a billiard table, and cut off from any appealing vistas by the low valley walls hemming it in. On the other hand, the hilltops have beautiful vistas; but the soil is absolute garbage- gravel, rock and clay.
Logged
dalethorn
Guest
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2008, 05:03:29 PM »
ReplyReply

I can't comment on the practical or historical reasons for valuing land, but for general appreciation of landscapes (viewing), it seems to have something to do with symmetries, which are also used subconsciously in mate selection. There are technical studies of symmetry in relation to human perceptions - I expect there's something relevant at Google.
Logged
Geoff Wittig
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1017


« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2008, 09:38:30 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Linda
(Goldilocks)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=181203\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I guess I'll bite. The landscape to me is a compelling aesthetic presence. You come over a rise, and in front of you is a backlit vista of hilltops and forest in the morning sun, a little fog still in the low spots. It's simply gorgeous, one of those perfect little moments you wish you could preserve forever. And you can! Master the craft, and you can capture it on film or digitally, and render it as a print that can convey to folks who weren't there at least some fragment of what you experienced. That is a big part of what drives me to photograph landscapes. It's such a beautiful planet we live on. Maybe showing a few other people how beautiful it is may encourage them to help slow the rate at which we're destroying it.

For the last 19 years we've lived in rural western New York on an east-facing hillside overlooking a valley and more hills beyond. My wife found the place, at the time a decrepit unfinished shell. She's not a photographer, but she told me "you have to see the view", and (God bless her) didn't bat an eye when I immediately made an offer to the owner. The landscape changes with the seasons and the weather; it's never the same two days in a row. We watch the sun come up every day. Okay, at least the 20% of the time it's not cloudy. The beauty of the place is such that we're willing to put up with the miserable sulphurous well water and being snowed in with some frequency in the winter. Worth it!

I want to draw a distinction (probably self-deluded) between our home and what I saw the last time I went hiking in West Virginia. Our place is tucked into a fold in the hillside, and you have to know where to look to see it. We don't really "own" the 99 acres we live on. We're encouraging it to revert to mature forest because it'll still be here long after we're gone. In West Virginia last year I saw literally dozens of brand new gigantic McMansions defacing the mountaintops. Most were unoccupied, obviously weekenders & "vacation places" for wealthy absentee owners. Most were surrounded by an acre or more of manicured lawn that stood out like a bald head. This selfish desire to "possess" a mountaintop vista ruins the view for everyone else in the region. Over the course of a week of hiking I spoke with quite a few residents; their comments about the "rich lawyers from Washington" building those mountaintop eye-sores were often unprintable.
Logged
Dale_Cotton
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 580


WWW
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2008, 09:23:37 AM »
ReplyReply

Linda: I think you've got at least two different questions here. Why a rich person would build a house on a property with a vista view is one thing and why an artist would be moved to paint or photograph the land is another. As per Geoff's observation, rich people have been known to spend money on what they perceive as status value; the owner of the soon-to-be mansion you refer to might look upon the view as little more than another status symbol in his/her collection and only notice it through the eyes of a complimentary guest. Your Marin county sighting simply confirms that this is not an exclusively east coast phenomenon. (Another incomprehensible preoccupation of the well-to-do is motoring around in elongated hearses, but that's getting off-topic.)

Beyond that special case, not all people even share the feeling some of us have for the natural landscape. Many people thrive on city life, sharing photographer Walker Evan's sentiment when he said "Nature bores me". Carl Jung discovered that extroverts recharge their psychological batteries in the bustle of a crowd or a party, while introverts do the opposite, decompressing in quiet and solitude. One aspect of the pleasure an introvert derives from a natural vista is thus likely to be the elation of her spirit having new-found elbow room to expand into.

At a deeper level, humanity inherits 450 million years of evolution that has systematically engineered a highly distorted perception of reality, emphasizing an apparent separation of the individual from the entire gestalt of being. For most of us, our day-to-day experience takes us from inside one of the familiar boxes we call houses, through the inside of one of the mega boxes we call towns and cities, to the inside of yet another box we call an office or shop or factory, then back again. On those relatively rare occasions when we seek out an open expanse of the box-less biosphere, the sudden disjoint can serve to temporarily sidestep the customary illusion of ego isolation. But not to worry - your nervous system is always on the alert and will quickly rush to restore the four illusory walls of selfhood.

Of course, as an artist, you're wondering where beauty (literally) comes into the picture. But the previous Dale has already addressed that little matter quite handily. About all I can add is that both the psychological decompression of the introvert and the spiritual decompression from sidestepping habitual alienation are both beautiful things and may well temporarily ramp up the serotonin uptake in the pre-frontal cortex.

Enjoy.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2008, 09:38:36 AM by Dale Cotton » Logged
Tim.Lewis
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 14



WWW
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2008, 08:50:51 PM »
ReplyReply

What are men to rocks and mountains? - Jane Austen

Seems others have wondered along similar routes.
Logged

[span style='font-size:13pt;line-height:100%'][span style='font-family:Geneva']Got a Mac, not going back![/span][/span]
Nora151
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 6



WWW
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2008, 08:26:10 AM »
ReplyReply

I believe that the reason why people like landscapes is because of their desire for silence. Not necessarily silence in the meaning of no noise but rather in the meaning that you want something to look at that doesn't change too fast. It just lays there, silent. It helps people to come down from their busy work but that's just my opinion
Logged

When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!  ~Ted Grant
BFoto
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 240



WWW
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2008, 09:37:18 PM »
ReplyReply

Simple

There are too many people in this world and wo/man is forever in search of a place to sit and watch the day pass by without the presence of other wo/man in the frame.
Logged

Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad