By Holly Markovitz Goldstein
This dissertation positions modern images of iconic American frontier websites as visible embodiments of revisionist background. Artists Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Deborah vibrant, and Robert Adams use images to re-image and re-write American panorama heritage; they examine conflicting narratives of nationhood and reinterpret the legacies of nineteenth-century photographers. Klett and Pfahl eventually perpetuate the parable of the frontier by way of suggesting that the country is as appealing and wealthy in assets now because it was once within the 19th century. in contrast, vibrant and Adams depict well-known frontier websites as smooth ruins, revealing that America's ethnic, classification, and gender relatives and its ecological future health are fragile and volatile. In bankruptcy One, the Rephotographic Survey undertaking, created by means of Klett, JoAnn Verburg and Ellen Manchester, makes use of geological repeat-photography to judge current landscapes opposed to the previous; this intentionally banal comparability of "then" and "now" situates the western frontier as a altering indicator of nationwide cultural identification. In bankruptcy , Klett's panoramic picture- collages of Yosemite and the Grand Canyon place the West as a university of background, created by means of generations of layered creative, documentary, and advertisement imagery. In bankruptcy 3, Pfahl's Arcadia Revisited sequence employs elegant and picturesque aesthetics to depict today's Niagara Falls because the beautiful vacationer vacation spot it was once designed to be a century in the past, principally ignoring the region's present ecological devastation. bankruptcy 4 argues that of Bright's New England-based initiatives divulge biases in traditional American old narratives: Glacial Erratic unearths Plymouth Rock, a website of imagined patriotic reminiscence, to be seriously inscribed with histories of violence and oppression, and show up depicts crumbling stone boundary partitions as websites of energy and resistance. In bankruptcy 5, Adams's Turning again re-examines the Lewis and Clark day trip at the party of its bicentennial; images depicting ghastly scenes of big deforestation within the Pacific Northwest demonstrate an American dream long gone awry. Klett and Pfahl's confident pictures depict an iconic frontier that maintains to draw travelers, motivate artists, and gasoline patriotism. but Bright's imprisoned Plymouth Rock represents the inconsistencies of yankee heritage, and Adams's simple forests disclose the tragic aftermath of western exploration.
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Additional info for American Landscapes as Revisionist History: The Frontier Photographs of Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Deborah Bright and Robert Adams
27 Fascinated by O'Sullivan's methods of photographing vast wilderness using cumbersome equipment and inspired by his bold, personalized aesthetic, Although landscape photography survey texts do discuss the contributions of O'Sullivan, Ansel Adams, and the New Topographies, this dissertation makes an emphatic case for the sweeping importance of these three major milestones in particular and assesses their contributions to current practice. 26 For an art-historical overview of the surveys, see Weston Naef, Era of Exploration: The Rise of Landscape Photography in the American West, 1860-1885 (Buffalo: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, in association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975).
Americans were influenced both by the conceptions that drew them to the frontier, and by encounters (real and imagined) with the territory itself. 18 Throughout American history, an environmental, political, and cultural relationship with wilderness has shaped and defined national identity. Throughout this dissertation, I employ the phrase "contact zone" as a way to describe interactions along the American frontier. I borrow this term from literary scholar Mary Louise Pratt, who influentially uses "contact zone" to refer to the real and imagined space of colonial encounters.
30 thus can never be static, set down once and for all. One of history's highest goals is to make the past usable. If the New Western History does nothing else, it helps us consider the old and familiar in new ways. The New Western History aims to include various divergent voices and perspectives in a renewed, reinvigorated investigation of the past. Now, twenty years after the Santa Fe conference, the field has grown and evolved but remained true to its revisionist roots. In April, 2009, Patricia Limerick and historian Richard White (another leading scholar of the West and contributor to Trails: Toward a New Western History) addressed the state of the field of Environmental History during a joint lecture at Harvard University's Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.
American Landscapes as Revisionist History: The Frontier Photographs of Mark Klett, John Pfahl, Deborah Bright and Robert Adams by Holly Markovitz Goldstein