Thesis Info

A 21st Century Flâneur : Landscape, Embodiment, and Photography
Meggan L. Gould
2nd Author
3rd Author
Number of Pages
University of Massachusetts--Dartmouth
Thesis Supervisor
Victoria Crayhon
Supervisor e-mail
vcrayhon AT
Other Supervisor(s)
Magali Carrera, Spencer Ladd
Language(s) of Thesis
Department / Discipline
Languages Familiar to Author
English, French, Spanish
URL where full thesis can be found
photography, landscape, embodiment, virtuality, google, new media, internet art, net art, language, space, interstiality, movement, visual culture, eye, camera, remixing
Abstract: 200-400 words
My photographic examinations of landscapes, both physical and virtual, serve as a visual starting point for the larger theoretical concerns in my work, namely considerations of vision, the human eye, and assumptions implicit in photographic representation. While these works may at first seem quite disparate in artistic intent and execution, they are united in these theoretical explorations concerning the very nature of vision, and what it means to look, to see, to regard, to gaze . . . with and through the perceptive capabilities and fallibilities of the human eye. I seek to distill the experience of vision from conventions surrounding its representation, and I have narrowed my focus, directed an analysis of my gaze, on landscape—in the broadest sense of the word—to concretely explore an example of a dichotomy between lived experience and conventions of photographic representation. I address the physical landscape through two technically distinct series—in one I abstract the daily landscape of my commute using a digital pinhole; in the other I address the visual experience of moving through foreign, unfamiliar environments at various speeds, actively watching new landscapes unfurl and pass by. I have concurrently begun to address the virtual landscape of the computer screen, for I believe it must be appreciated as a contemporary landscape within which we spend an increasing amount of time, whose geographies are becoming critical to contemporary lived experience. The embodied viewer of cyberspace elicits the same notion of an aesthetics of embodiment in the context of the computer screen as in that of physical space. Static screenshots do as little to represent the corporeal experience of the cyberspace encounter as picture postcards do to epitomize the experience of a visited monument; both fundamentally repudiate lived, embodied encounters by abstracting them to a contrived and sanitary stasis. The era of the embodied viewer, where the eye as camera, camera as eye metaphors predominate, may well be waning. A myriad of new technologies—virtual reality, magnetic resonance imaging, surveillance cameras, and digital cameras with LCD screens held at arm’s length from the photographer’s body—points to the possibility of a new paradigm for vision, a shift in the site of sight. That the location of sight, in popular understanding or in general cultural acceptance, can shift over time has extraordinary ramifications for visual artists seeking to meaningfully translate visual experience. None of my current work involves any interaction whatsoever between camera and eye—either a camera is discretely tucked into the palm of my hand, or photographs are constructed mathematically from a folder full of images; at no point does my eye peer through the lens to compose a photograph. While my purpose has been primarily to question disciplinary paradigms inscribed in photographic representation, I find also that this rejection of the eye-as-camera metaphor, this liberation of the camera from the constraints of a contrived eye (or the liberation of the eye from the contrived constraints of the camera), may be part of a larger trend, in which the metaphorical hold of the eye on the camera loosens, and eventually lets go entirely.