Wednesday, 23 July 2014 19:30

To Landscape

Landscape Composition No. IV Landscape Composition No. IV Mandy Lee Jandrell
Having photographed for many years in theme parks and open air museums, I became interested in how these environments were constructed to build narrative. These hybrid environments operate within clearly defined boundaries. Within those boundaries, and separate to everyday lived reality, these environments concretise or materialise narratives into built landscapes. Landscape, presented within these environments, can be read as a very particular and subjective cultural construction. The narratives they construct serve to obstruct or obscure reality.

My interest lies is how the construction of these environments actively mimic and emulate pictorial conventions of the past, specifically in their construction of ‘The Exotic’ or ‘The Other’. Embedding in their production are reproductions of unequal spatial distribution of economic, military and political power. My work explores contemporary imaginings of this phenomenon within the sphere of the empire of global capitalism.

In ‘Landscape and Power’ WJT Mitchell asks that we think of landscape, not as an object to be seen or a text to be read, but as a process by which social and subjective identities are formed. He goes on to ask that we consider not just what landscape ‘is’ or ‘means’ but what it does, how it works as a cultural practice. My work explores how the construction of landscapes within the context of late global capitalism becomes a way of controlling, taming and subsuming both different cultures and the natural world.

What I try to capture in the work is how the distinction between fact and fiction becomes blurred, how cultural references become stereotyped and misconstrued. For me these spaces speak of the way in which we learn to understand the world through ‘google’ searches or Wikis. Education becomes entertainment within this arena, mismatches and misrepresentations of information occur and leads to a reading of the world through the lens of this construction.

When creating my digital montages I use large range of source images: my own photographs, to imagery found on the internet, so that there is no one point of reference. I am conscious to make the digital manipulation obvious, even cack-handed and amateurish and to juxtapose the scales of particular elements within the image, so that the viewer oscillates between believing the image and being aware of its fakery. Forcing the viewer to confront their own reading of the images, and the mental image bank through which they are building meaning. In doing, I attempt to explore the relationship between constructed images and the real, questioning where truth/reality lies (if it exists at all).

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Mandy Lee Jandrell

A series of portrait photographs taken at The Folk China Villages in Shenzhen, China published in the print edition of Itch in 2004