Depth of Field, volume 7, no. 1 (December 2015)Maartje van den Heuvel: New ‘Masters’ of Dutch Landscape. Photographs of the Most Man-Made Land in the World

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Geometry and grids

Often the consequences in the landscape of industrialization and human control are systemization into geometric patterns and grids. This motif has been explored by several photographers. Gerco de Ruijter (b. 1961 used remote-controlled cameras to make aerial photographs of the Netherlands. (Fig. 5) He especially chose places where the geometrical shapes conflict with natural forms, or where one can see nature growing back through and covering these geometrical patterns.[31] Also two artists from abroad, when working in the Netherlands, were struck by the highly controlled, systemized, and even computerized environments of the huge Dutch glasshouses – which in fact are factories that produce nature. The Hungarian artist Gábor Ösz (b. 1962) turned a caravan into a large camera by making a hole in one side and putting large Cibachrome papers on the opposing side. Ösz made nocturnal photos of landscapes with greenhouses. The light of the greenhouses reached the Cibachrome paper in the caravan over the course of exposure times that sometimes lasted for several nights. The resulting unique monumental photographs – in which the contours of the caravan can still be seen – show the greenhouses as gloomy places.[32] These pictures turned out to have registered a temporary phenomenon: due to environmental regulations, this nightly light pollution is no longer allowed, and the glasshouses are now covered or painted. The Spaniard Xavier Ribas (b. 1960) drew the viewer’s attention to the extensive size of the greenhouses. One continuous, unedited travelling shot was shown on a television screen, in which two former farmers who had moved to make room for the greenhouse talk about their past life at the farm. His installation is a visual comment on industrialization and large-scale agriculture as well as man’s treatment of nature.[33]


Fig. 5. Gerco de Ruijter, untitled (Goeree), 2007, chromogenic print, 80 x 80 cm.