Project 12: Public landscapes

I am trying to build on the approach in my last post by investing standard landscape images with symbolism in order to evoke a sense of what it’s like to exist in the landscape as a wheelchair user. I tried to achieve a similar aim the last project, although that was more an explicit commentary on the administrative exclusive approach to the subject by designating “special” concessions for disabled people because of the lack of inclusive design.

In this work I am trying to make a political statement slightly more personal. I also want to create pictures that speak from within themselves. This means that I need to trigger the intended evocation from within the frame. I think the images of my home have given me a lead on how to achieve this and so I have experimented here with applying symbols to a suburban landscape and think it works.



It seems to me that any one of the above images that incorporate the disability symbol evoke a wholly different sense than the original image and that my choice is really about how obvious I want to be. For example, in this case I thought the best image was this below.

Landscape Motif-23

I hope that the reason this image works is because it makes the viewer think about what they are looking at and what it means. But I also think the image satisfies me because it works:

  • as a discourse. It speaks to people so that they can interpret it and understand it as a visual statement – at least to some degree. This is particularly important in considering audiences who have an interest in, and knowledge of art and photography.
  • as a picture. That is its aesthetics engage viewers who have no particular knowledge or interest in art and photography.
  • to satisfy me. This image expresses something of my personal experience and attitude. 

The recent work on symbols and signs has helped me clarify the issue with landscape. Really the issue is a simple one of finding the correct juxtaposition of impairment related subject matter and landscapes, and then injecting a trigger into it. So this is what I plan to explore here.

I’ve not determined any specific number of images needed, but the number in each set needs to be enough for their intended purpose – ideas about display, viewer “getting it” without duplication or repetition for its own sake and some of my photos have offered varying degrees of obviousness in regard of the reference to disability.


About Pete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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