Out There – Part I

The two-part exhibition Out There with venues in Maastricht (October / November 2014) and Rotterdam (February 2015), set up in collaboration with the Dutch Photography Museum in Rotterdam, is showing present-day landscape images by contemporary artists who work with various media such as video, photography and ‘net art’. Distributed over two exhibition zones and two cities 50 artworks are put on display that are part of the 500-year-old tradition of landscape art and at the same time stretch and make current the traditional frames of meaning through new techniques and views.

From the 17th-century Hollandse Meesters (Dutch Masters) until the beginning of the 20th century a ‘landscape art work’ has always been a momentous representation of the culture of which the work was part. The landscape painters not only presented their views of nature, they also captured relevant changes within that culture. In his book Filosofie van het landschap (Philosophy of the Landscape) (1970) philosopher Tom Lemaire argues that landscape art has lost its relevance as image carrier of a culture and that the 20th-century representations of the landscape in painting and photography are merely iterations of past moves and no longer incite new insights.

Due to the rise of digital technology and media at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries fine art and the ‘landscape genre’ have undergone a radical development. The ways in which 21st-century man observes and interprets the world and gathers information has fundamentally changed.

In Out There contemporary video projections and video installations are matched with the latest digital landscape photography and computer-generated artworks that bear direct links to social media, Google Maps, Google Earth, Streetview, GPS, satellite images, security camera’s, webcams, flickr and Instagram. The omnipresent and ‘makeable’ image forms the basis of new and exciting landscape works. The world today is fragmented and highly dispersed and hence requires different visualisations, interpretations and explanations.

By means of moving images, slide shows, stop motion or digital editing present-day moving and ‘still’ landscape works address social, political, ecological or ethical issues and thematize notions of time, standstill and movement. The myriad images that make up the collective memory of art history are used to tell new, meaningful narratives. Narratives about how we relate to the rural and urban landscapes and the image culture of today.