Considering Contrasting Realities

Landscapes have never been something I was good at, but after a couple of days out in the wilds of controlled natural splendor of Hiddensee, I’ve begun to wonder if this isn’t due to my inability to engage visually with nature as a modern source of wonder. An inability primarily due to a cynicism that won’t allow me to hide from the reality of nurturing nature being a modern myth. I don’t mean that the natural world doesn’t exist, there is immeasurable evidence that it does, but the modern ideal of nature, as an all-healing balm to which we can return when all else has gone to shit.

I remember reading Zola’s harrowing Earth. This pitiless depiction of the brutality of rural French life at the end of the 19th century is not the nature we know and love today. The narrative then was one of grinding immoral poverty conjoined with a brutish daily struggle to survive in an unforgiving landscape that was wedded to a ruthlessly corrupt desire to wrench any advantage from life, no matter how insignificant, before death viciously garroted you.

That reality of nature is not part of the bucolic narrative of present day country life, but it is what we will have to return to when everything goes to shit.

It’s these types of thoughts that intrude when I attempt to make pictures of idealized landscapes devoid of the tourist hordes.

In his book the Bone Clock, David Mitchell predicts a despairing end of utilities as the catalyst bringing about the destruction of society as we know it now, and on pretty islands such as Hiddensee, such predictions seem inevitable.

 

24-70mm, f6.3, 1/400sec, ISO160

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