An Understanding of Landscape and Visual Culture
Fred Truniger, Dr. sc. ETH
To survey landscapes is the affair of the geometer. In the figurative sense, however, landscapes can also be ‘surveyed’ through other means and under other points of view: the research project Surveying Land Through Film examines such forms of ‘land measurement’ primarily through documentary films of the past 10 years and then asks, what landscapes mean to our society and how they are presented to the judging eye through the medium of film.
The recently completed transdisciplinary study is a plea for a complex view on landscape and its visual representation. Starting point is preoccupation of film with the depiction of landscape. This emanates from two fundamental convictions: in terms of landscape theory, the aesthetic landscape is becoming an increasingly dynamic one, where the definition of landscape as a
visual and natural phenomenon is changing to an understanding of landscape as a space for social interactions generated by the demands of society. On the other side is the ability of film to stimulate discussion, to bind its audience intellectually and emotionally in the narrative, thereby creating a kind of secondary experiential quality of the landscape.
One of the results of the project is the evidence of far-reaching affinities between contemporary ideas and depictions of landscape in film, that make the medium (and its predecessors analogue and digital video) the currently most adequate representation medium of the dynamic landscape. The analysis method presented for the film medium offers a starting point for further work with visual culture in contemporary landscape theory.
Dissertation completed 2008
Advisor: Prof. Christophe Girot
Co-advisor: Prof. em. Dr. Christine Noll Brinckmann