(Text below excerpted from an ongoing exchange between Dr. Abigail Susik and Jordan Tate)
Are you finding that the main difference you experience with landscape is about being in that space as a photographer, or about the space itself as separate from you, or about the remainder of that space as it is secured in the photographic image? I'm asking because I feel like all three of those modes of relating to landscape could be quite different. Since I wasn't there in the snow with you that day, I find that I am for the most part clutching the final document, the remainder of your time, the photograph itself, in my search for signs of a sense of space and difference in the landscape as it is rendered frozen, two-dimensional and black and white in your shots. One of the things that I find relieving about these two images that you sent is that they are comparably more free of coded signs than most other images I deal with during my day, such as reproductions of works of art, news images, photographs of faces coded with signifying expressions. The landscape is not attempting to communicate with me in the photograph, although I suppose it could be communicating in some manner with something (not me).
But for you, you were there in the space with your binary vision of two eyes, and your mono-perspective of the camera lens, and the snowy escarpment itself. Was the landscape most real in your lens or in your eyes, or was there no difference? I feel like this question probably sounds unclear. What I mean is, how did you see the landscape and what was it like for you?
By the way, I liked your typo "picturesque snot." It seemed very apropos. It's like as soon as you captured the photographic image, the coolness of the place, its difference as land, was suddenly transmuted into gooey snot as "picturesque" enframed picture- landscape.
// Dr. Abigail Susik
Fresh perspective on one’s own assumptions are always painful and productive. I think (to finally answer your question) the difference of the landscape and my role in it is apart from the photograph. The photograph is almost a record of having-been-there and something to share as an aesthetic experience (a massive separation from my earlier practice). So when thinking about how I relate to the landscape as a part of my practice I'm not able to place my practice at a single point, the closest is the first, but I would suggest that for my process it is more the being in the landscape as a person that is most important, not primarily as a photographer (although admittedly, I always do take the 4x5). That said, I think your third paradigm is also accurate - what I have is the remainder (or remnants) of the land that has been "scaped" and therefore made object and other. This gets to the question of the difference between land and landscape (as I see it) - land exists and landscape is observed but it can't exist as landscape (or you can't be sure of its existence as picturesque enough to be a landscape) until you observe it. It's Schrödinger's Landscape.
Really though, it is also a manifestation of a powerful Weltschmertz that I am not alone in feeling. The world we live in is not the world I expected or knew. Everything is just a little bit fucked, but also strangely hopeful. It is perfectly described as picturesque snot. You are my hero for that one.
// Jordan Tate