Dick Lane at Southern Light
Photographer and Associate Professor of Art at TCU Dick Lane’s exhibition, “The Iterated Landscape,” is on display through March 23 in the Southern Light Gallery at Amarillo College.
The eight pieces on display are manipulated landscape photographs. Most of Lane’s work starts with the base of a fairly straightforward nature setting, but is edited via Photoshop in a way that causes the viewer to question the nature of beauty and/or reality. The natural settings are sharpened, blurred and overlaid with cartographic elements and representations of wildlife. “Traditionally, landscape photography is generally thought of in terms of ‘straight’ or un-manipulated” photographic imagery where the subject is more or less a beautiful vista,” Lane wrote in his artist statement. “My project investigates using the landscape as a starting point that is inclusive of the traditional ‘straight’ photographic landscape as well as a large number of ‘iterations’ of those images by manipulations.”
Dick Lane, Capriccio #6
In pieces like his “Capriccio #6” and “Capriccio #11,” Lane transports viewers to another time and place. The base photographs are clearly earthly landscapes, but his treatments make you feel like you’re seeing through the eyes of an otherworldly being or a piece of advanced technology. It’s obvious that he labors over each “iteration,” as he calls them, to alter the way we encounter landscape. It’s not unlike peering through an Instagram or Snapchat filter. The maps he superimposes are presumably linked to the locales of each photo. Many of the geographical features and bodies of water displayed are familiar. But they at times seem to suggest distance from where viewers are standing. Like this is some sort of high tech communiqué with details of a journey yet to be taken. The flowing lines of topography and river streams seem to suggest the route.
Conversely, found black and white photos of individuals and families, complete with antique frames, hover over the already ethereal space. Some are ghostly, as if artworks in “The Iterated Landscape” are snapshots of the environments where these people once lived. It’s almost as if they haunt each piece, or viewers are time travelers stopping by for a visit. Shapes of various species of bird in the sky, or coyotes wandering a plain, will cause viewers to question the temporality of the work. Is this the Pre-Columbian American landscape, the era of the dustbowl, or an image taken from inside of a moving car? Void of any fine details, it’s unclear whether this is where the birds once flew, or where they are soon to fly.
Lane credits photographers such as Carlton E. Watkins and Ansel Adams with pioneering the “straight,” highly focused style of landscape photography. Whether this straight portrayal of landscape serves as truth-telling or hyperbole is a question his work raises. He thanks Jerry Uelsmann, a professor he studied under at the University of Florida, for encouraging him to push those boundaries in his own work.
The Southern Light Gallery is located in the first floor foyer of the Ware Student Commons on Amarillo College’s Washington Street campus. It exhibits the work of innovative and upcoming photographers, and is open to the 7:30 a.m.-8:50 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-4:50 p.m. Friday and 2-5:50 p.m. Sunday.