After reading the definition of Earth Art, my initial impressions were it was similar in concept to what Capability Brown had done in the 18th century, where the landscape itself was altered for the people who used the land at the time. However, here with earth art, the landscape was being altered for the eventual piece of Art. I saw this as a kind of permanent installation on the Earth. If landscapes are reliant to a large extent on the land before the camera looking a certain way, then earth art, where the landscape is sculpted by the artist, is very important to how the final shot is seen. This was interesting to me because I had come to realise with my landscape photography, how dependant I was on the landscape to ‘cooperate’ in terms of subject matter like foreground interest and yet at the same time also include other objects in the middle ground/background, which complemented the foreground but also compositionally suggested something meaningful. Perhaps with earth art, where the eventual photographer had some input over some parts of the landscape, especially with foreground interest, I could have greater control over how the photograph looked aesthetically. Slightly contradictory to this though, was my inclination to keeping the landscape image ‘realistic’, so how much of the foreground for instance was changed was something I would pay attention to.
There were varying degrees to how extreme this earth art was sculpted in the land; from mammoth structures to much more subtle implementations by the likes of Richard Long, with ‘Blue Sky Circle’ (Long, 2002), for example. I felt my interest was peaked more by the subtler work of Long, not just because it was more feasible for me to experiment with but also because it addressed my previous concern of keeping the landscape image ‘realistic’, where if the effect on the landscape was subtle, I would be more comfortable with the changes made to the landscape and eventual image.
‘A Line Made by Walking exists now only in a photograph.’ – (O’Hagan, 2009). This quote from the article: One Step Beyond in The Guardian (2009), made me realise how some types of art; in this case land art by Richard Long, could be so fragile. At the same time; seeing as I had been contemplating photographs as finite in nature, it made me think that even the photograph was quite frail and yet it was also so important, as it remained as the only thing left to document that particular piece of Long’s land art. This reminded me of the picture-in-picture idea I had got to grips with in Assignment 2 – A Journey; in so far as the photograph on the t-shirt (inside an eventual other photograph) and the land art (inside, if you will, an eventual photograph) shared a similar relationship in that they had changed the landscape but only for a (greatly varying) moment in time.
O’Hagan, S. (2009). One step beyond. [Online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/may/10/art-richard-long [Accessed 15 Jun. 2015.