The alien landscape
My thesis title, The alien landscape, was inspired by the way artists have treated the desert landscape of the western United States, particularly of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Deserts are naturally hostile environments, with their lack of water and vegetation. They are often dominated by rock formations and little else. Many of the artists discussed in this paper such as Donald Judd and James Turrell, as well as contemporary figures such as Gisela Colon and the arts organization Desert X all produce formalist art and engage in some form of minimalism. They exist in a non-human place, or an alien landscape.
The artwork I created in response to this research was a series of photographs with my ceramic sculptures as the subjects. Many of them vaguely resemble landscapes, but no landscape that could ever exist. The goal was not to create a trompe l’oeil effect, but instead surreal tableaus, which exist in their own time and space. Color was another element used in the creation of unnatural and alien landscapes.
When researching land artist Michael Heizer, I came across the quote, “size is real, scale is imaginary.” In a photograph the only imagery that matters is what fits inside the frame of the camera. It is impossible to determine size, as there is no reliable outside scale. They exist in a nowhere space.