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Time Landscapes

Time Landscapes

Curated by Beryl Graham

New media is often assumed to be the antithesis of all that is rural or natural – a quick and shallow ‘virtual reality’ for city slickers, which doesn’t even approach feeling the sea spray on your face, or just ‘being there’. Yet, there many layers of artificiality and man-made intervention lurking in the landscape – is that coastline restricted by the military? Is that woodland ancient semi-natural, or carefully sculpted for clients owning a country estate? Are those seaside watercolours and those photographs of farmhouse Bed and Breakfasts carefully editing out any sign of modern functionality, such as the electricity pylons? When it comes to art, new media artists still have a strong interest in landscape, and are able to use the characteristics of new media to reveal different layers of reality. This includes those layers which are not visible to the naked eye, and might be expressed as data – for example layers of numbers concerning invisible pollution, appearing as the glitches in landscape images. The connected nature and global reach of the internet also enables the artists here to play with time and space: Pollution is monitored live in real time; from a village in Cornwall, you can see the temperatures in all corners of the globe, right at that moment. Being ‘live on the internet’ does not of course always mean huge speed: these Harewood landscapes are drawn more slowly than a watercolour, and the contemplation of Pico Mirador national park unfolds to the leisurely pace of webcam refresh rates. Take a seat at a screen, and contemplate the sublime mass of data that is the internet …




2008-2009, Website of archived images from webcam (additional archived images running from hard drive)

Landscape is often characterized as natural, ancient, and real-time, but Susan Collins’ recent webcam works question all of these things, and slowly, very slowly, produce odd and haunting images.

For over a year, a camera overlooked Harewood House’s landscape, carefully crafted by ‘Capability’ Brown to appear ‘natural’. The webcam recorded and transmitted live images, at the rate of a pixel a second so that a whole image represents the previous 21.33 hours. Each image spans dark, dawn and dusk in horizontal bands, stretching the time horizon, and inviting meditation in a world where technology is most often associated with breakneck speed. This web site presents archived images from the 2008/9 project, but see the artists’ site for more live projects.



2009, Web site which gathers data from elsewhere on the internet

Sometimes, pictures are worth a thousand bits of data. Eclipse uses ideas of landscape together with the ability of the web to connect images to bits of data, concerning, in this case, ecological systems.

If the user selects a national park in the USA, the software searches the photography site Flickr for images of that landscape, then uses live data on air pollution in that region to ‘corrupt’ the image. The higher the levels of pollution, the more visual glitches occur. The work of ecoarttech (Cary Peppermint and Leila Nadir) often deals with ecological or landscape issues, from urban hikes to odd videos of rural living.

Pico Mirador


2003, Web site responding to time of day (UK time)

Web-cams, with their clunky low-resolution and glacial ‘refresh-rate’ timing, might seem scant fodder for artists, but Rachel Reupke here revels in the beauty and narrative of the webcams provided by the fictional Pico Mirador National Park. Rachel Reupke’s work has dealt with the romantic conventions of film landscapes, including Hitchcock’s use of scenery as a story-telling device, loaded with psychological metaphor.



2005, Web site which gathers data from elsewhere on the internet

All over the world, strangers talk only about the weather.  You can be in the middle of nowhere, but be online. Chatting on Skype with relatives in Australia, we compare the sunshine or rain at that very moment.

In Weather Gauge, numerical weather data from dozens of places simultaneously forms an array of animated data which is strangely evocative. Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead make art using any technology necessary, from Google teatowels to connected pianos.