Landscape paintings: Does it matter where YOU stand? As observer, onlooker, artist, master of the painting to be? Because, eventually, you don't stand anywhere yet everywhere: all that anyone looking at the painting can see is the vista constructed by you, but you being left outside the frame (literally so).
I'm transposing social science arguments on reflexivity, standpoint and a critique of the all-knowing scientist onto my paintings. And I'm struck by the actual process in which in particular that God trick as Donna Haraway talked about it is at play when I paint - only what I see and regard as important makes it into the painting and yet I am not there.
Well, I am there only by proxy: sloppy brushwork, poor composition, shades in the wrong places etc.
Which probably takes me onto the next point to consider: with the God trick, the artist is simultaneously elevated into this creative, perceptive, tortured (?), expressive individual that does all these great/rubbish pieces of art. Person-making and individuality probably struggle to find more receptive recipients than artists - and also academics and politicians? Strangely enough, I landed squarely in the middle of two of these fields. ... But that is for another post.
But back to the God trick: this ties back to the critique of the construction of landscapes as 'naturally there', well, that's nature, what you see, what is, stupid! - nope, they are not, they are made - by onlookers, often powerful ones, to turn rural poverty in pitoresque pastoral scenes; or construct Williams' knowable communities as those which consist of the right people living sort of nearby.
This leaves two further items to examine:
- nature without people? nature v people? naturepeople? As something about subject matter. [discussed in this post here]
- something much more mundane: how to translate a 'not-framing' into composition? Into composition of landscapes in particular - rather than action painting a la abstract expressionism or similar (that is clearly one answer, though, isn't/wasn't it?); and to explore how paintings without background could counter such framing? But then there are lots of more questions:
- Would that not merely mean that the middleground becomes the background?
- How does dis/orientation work between different planes?
- What role does perspective have in this?
- Viewpoints? Angles? Distortions?