Michael Andrews Arts

See Announcements for details on publication of Archilochus poems in Arion Magazine.

California Landscapes

A dos-a-dos binding of urban LA and natural Sierras Landscapes, by Michael Andrews







 

Artist Book

Bound dos-a-dos, California Landscapes is comprised of two separate sections, bound back to back: The Sierra Nevadas and Los Angeles Cityscapes. Not only is the binding unusual, but the monographic nature of the contents represent the two spectrums of landscapes in California.
First Printed 2006. Limited to 17 copies. Each half is comprised of 32, 11x16 inch pages on 100% rag, archival paper with no optical brighteners, including approximately 80 pigment images, printed & handbound by the author. The two cover images are in a recessed window. The text is composed with Carolus and Goudy Old Style typefaces.



Photographs


                                                       

Introductions

Urban Landscapes


The distinction between the urban landscape and the natural landscape is one of context. Both forms of landscape are complex and accessible. And even though the urban landscape is less complex in the sense that the objects of human construction tend to be more simplified and less fractal-like, they also bear the power of the emotional connection to the human cultural context.
The urban landscape does not offer the same restful potential of endlessly repeated viewing that is inherent in the complexity of natural landscapes. Instead it stimulates because of the cultural context of human life that is implied in a landscape of human artifacts and are soaked with the implications of human stories of struggle, failure, victory, love, death, joy and sorrow, including the implication of purpose and design, of human dreams and human striving, and of the biological imperative to survive. For this reason the urban landscape is more immediately accessible and somewhat less complex than the natural landscape. Its complexity is really that of the accretion of a vast number of human artifacts and their complex relationships within the human landscape. The immediate impression of the urban landscape is of the simplification of form, combined with the impact that is inherent in the recognition of some cultural context.
In a positive sense the urban landscape very often suggests the very best of human endeavors: a skyline might very well suggest the endeavors of Mozart, Lao Tzu, Tu Fu and William Blake. At other times it offers cautionary warnings that are suggested in landscapes of human suffering and degradation. These become morality plays frozen into urban moments and are meant to imply the need for necessary modifications of the more egregious of human behaviors.
Human behavior in any sense is the power that is reflected by the urban landscape. They reflect what human intelligence and human culture does to alter the world as it was inherited from its natural matrix. Human beings take great comfort in viewing human doings. It means that we were here.


Sierra Nevadas


The primary distinction between the landscape and more narrowly focused photographic genres is mainly that of complexity and accessibility.
Accessibility, as used here, is largely a matter of recognition. Because the landscape portrays a general ambiance, often including a skyline, it always conveys the feeling of the general description of place. It is emotive in that one of the conditions of place is mood, which often shifts with time of day, the season and weather conditions.
The accessibility of landscapes, which results from the viewer's immediate recognition and identification with the place, is what makes the landscape so difficult. It is difficult because it so general, and general in the sense that it is common to many individuals. That makes the landscape's appeal broader, more accessible to a wider audience than the more narrowly focused genres which require the artist to isolate one object, or a few objects, out of a complex fecundity, and that requires an individual point of view in order to draw distinctions, not only in the mind of the creator, but in the mind of the viewer. The difficulty derives from the need to appear not to be a cliché. Extraordinarily beautiful landscapes tend to be portrayed again and again. But, in the landscape's defense, what is obviously beautiful is beautiful just the same. The repetition is justified by the fact that we never seem to tire of looking at the same landscape over and over again.
What makes the landscape compelling is more than the emotional impact of place, but, most especially in the case of the natural landscape, complexity. There is a broad complexity contained in the relationships between the many objects within a landscape, but a deeper complexity is contained in the fractal like structure of a tree as opposed to the simplified geometry of a human artifact such as a building. Human artifacts tend to draw their strengths from a simplification of form.
The simplification of form in, say architecture, has the virtue of immediate impact, of recognition and cultural context, not to mention the implication of purpose and design. The more fractal like complexity of natural objects such as trees and mountain sides, draws its appeal from the fact that no matter how often the viewer sees it, the eye is always entertained by novelty, the sense of newness implied in the discovery of a nearly infinite number of relationships between part and part and between part and whole.
While the urban cityscape speaks of human aspiration, toil, striving and activity, the natural landscape conveys a sense of serenity, of escape and of belonging to something greater than the limitations of human dreaming and knowing. It speaks of rest, peace and spiritual tranquility.
It speaks to us of the eternal moment.