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Recollecting landscapes: landscape photography as a didactic tool

Bruno Notteboom (UGent)
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Abstract
The paper investigates the subject of the image and its presentation by reinterpreting the rephotographic survey project Recollecting Landscapes. The aim of this project was to document a century of landscape transformation in Belgium through a series of sixty landscapes successively photographed in the early twentieth century, in 1980 and in 2003. Each stage was characterized by an explicit didactic agenda: the vulgarization of geographical and botanical aspects of the Belgian landscape by botanist Jean Massart in the initial survey, demonstrating the decline of biodiversity in 1980 and raising awareness of the consequences of urban development in the last stage. Intrinsic to this type of survey, the single photograph derives its meaning from a series of commented and published images. Massart designed a rigorous system of didactic plates that steered the viewers’ interpretation by a combination of photographical images and textual captions. Throughout the various stages of rephotography the images evolved from printed to digital form. The most recent series gave rise to a proliferation of media: a ‘research-book’, a multimedia exhibition, a documentary film and an interactive website with an on-line archive (www.recollectinglandscapes.be). Recollecting Landscapes focused on specific mechanisms of landscape transformation. This paper merely takes the project as a starting point to raise questions about the presentation of images in general. What kind of representational strategies can be set out to vulgarize scientific research? To what extent does the format of the presentation narrow down the content and how are different layers of information incorporated? The relationship between the maker and the viewer is another question the paper addresses. Throughout the rephotography project, the viewer seems increasingly to be conceived as an active subject, especially in the web-related presentations of the last stage. However, this must be put into perspective. We argue that the use of new forms of representation creates new hierarchies that steer the interpretation of images in a more complex and less explicit, but nevertheless undeniable way.
Keywords
Exhibitions, Urban Planning, Photography, Landscape

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MLA
Notteboom, Bruno. “Recollecting Landscapes: Landscape Photography as a Didactic Tool.” ARQ-ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY 15.1 (2011): 47–55. Print.
APA
Notteboom, B. (2011). Recollecting landscapes: landscape photography as a didactic tool. ARQ-ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY, 15(1), 47–55.
Chicago author-date
Notteboom, Bruno. 2011. “Recollecting Landscapes: Landscape Photography as a Didactic Tool.” Arq-architectural Research Quarterly 15 (1): 47–55.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Notteboom, Bruno. 2011. “Recollecting Landscapes: Landscape Photography as a Didactic Tool.” Arq-architectural Research Quarterly 15 (1): 47–55.
Vancouver
1.
Notteboom B. Recollecting landscapes: landscape photography as a didactic tool. ARQ-ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY. 2011;15(1):47–55.
IEEE
[1]
B. Notteboom, “Recollecting landscapes: landscape photography as a didactic tool,” ARQ-ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 47–55, 2011.
@article{1227685,
  abstract     = {The paper investigates the subject of the image and its presentation by reinterpreting the rephotographic survey project Recollecting Landscapes. The aim of this project was to document a century of landscape transformation in Belgium through a series of sixty landscapes successively photographed in the early twentieth century, in 1980 and in 2003. Each stage was characterized by an explicit didactic agenda: the vulgarization of geographical and botanical aspects of the Belgian landscape by botanist Jean Massart in the initial survey, demonstrating the decline of biodiversity in 1980 and raising awareness of the consequences of urban development in the last stage. Intrinsic to this type of survey, the single photograph derives its meaning from a series of commented and published images. Massart designed a rigorous system of didactic plates that steered the viewers’ interpretation by a combination of photographical images and textual captions. Throughout the various stages of rephotography the images evolved from printed to digital form. The most recent series gave rise to a proliferation of media: a ‘research-book’, a multimedia exhibition, a documentary film and an interactive website with an on-line archive (www.recollectinglandscapes.be). Recollecting Landscapes focused on specific mechanisms of landscape transformation. This paper merely takes the project as a starting point to raise questions about the presentation of images in general. What kind of representational strategies can be set out to vulgarize scientific research? To what extent does the format of the presentation narrow down the content and how are different layers of information incorporated? The relationship between the maker and the viewer is another question the paper addresses. Throughout the rephotography project, the viewer seems increasingly to be conceived as an active subject, especially in the web-related presentations of the last stage. However, this must be put into perspective. We argue that the use of new forms of representation creates new hierarchies that steer the interpretation of images in a more complex and less explicit, but nevertheless undeniable way.},
  author       = {Notteboom, Bruno},
  issn         = {1359-1355},
  journal      = {ARQ-ARCHITECTURAL RESEARCH QUARTERLY},
  keywords     = {Exhibitions,Urban Planning,Photography,Landscape},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {47--55},
  title        = {Recollecting landscapes: landscape photography as a didactic tool},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1359135511000352},
  volume       = {15},
  year         = {2011},
}

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