Having been working on 180 degree panoramic drawings of opposite sides of the Severn, my attention shifted to exploring 360 degree imagery, something more immersive. The all-seeing eye of the 360 degree lens is hard to hide from. I began to frame myself within the ‘dome’, initially in stills, copying the posture of Caspar David Friedrich’s dominant male with a walking cane. Refusing the image of the masculine desire to conquer land, I chose to stroll in circles. This series of 12 circular walks has been created in response to the tradition of the male sole figure depicted in landscape, striding across rough terrains, leaving lines, territorial markers, traces on the ground. I doff my cap to Friedrich.
The prints and videos pull together much of my thinking about art from the past twenty years – issues about how we consume landscape, how we experience place, how we navigate and choreograph the way we travel on foot, or capture it through art. How we consume with our gaze. I dealt with all of those things when creating prints, video installations and curating scattered-site exhibitions in cities and in outdoor contexts.
Refusing the image of the masculine desire to conquer land, I chose to stroll in circles
I am not turning by back to the camera with grandiosity or awe for what I see, but to avoid the gaze of the 360 degree camera. It is like a God-eye, all seeing, all-knowing. As a woman, I have no desire to control or conquer nature, I am part of it. Many have gone before me with these thoughts, but none, to my knowledge, have attempted to come to terms with the overwhelming gaze of the 360 camera. When I first started to use it, I either featured as the centre of the imagery, or I hid. I have found a way to engage with it in a way that makes reference to other landscape traditions. I walk in circles.
I carefully frame the distance between the camera, the features of the landscape, and my body. I draw circles by walking. No rigid straight lines, but a female meander, a meditative action. The circle is a Jungian classical symbol – most often related to the Self. These are self-portraits – me, in my place, at this time, embedded in landscape.
This is part of RHYTHM, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring rhythm as individual and collective, as poetic and biological, and the ways that rhythm dictates life. RHYTHM is conceived and edited by Rachel Goldblatt.