… What is photographed? Nothing, and everything …
This is from the photographer’s preface to Guy Tillim: Second Nature (2012):
In making photographs of the landscape, I have to confront the difficulty of actually seeing the landscape. It’s a space that changes its face with a glance or a ghost of a thought. Perhaps there is a way of creating an enhanced engagement of a viewer, moving through the space of this possible image, where various elements are neither obvious nor not obvious.
The impulse to convey vista and unknowability in relation to my insignificance in the scene is almost overwhelming. When I lift the lens to my eye, I hesitate; maybe we look for certitude in clichés, those motifs often inappropriately used in describing landscape, that isolate some elements to the negation of others. A political position — here is a bulldozer or a filthy gutter in paradise — is untenable. Perhaps the scene is only beautiful when all the elements are palpably part of the whole.
So I return to what seem like some of the basic principles, and invariably the clichés and those obvious ways to convey the scene, either through detail or monumentality. But what of that which lies in-between, the indeterminate space that conveys the texture of the place, its feeling, its sensation, its quotidian elements alongside the spectacular? Ultimately, I think, there isn’t an answer, as in and of itself each scene is a place of meditation, of emptiness. It provides its own context because in a certain way of looking it cannot be anywhere else. What is photographed? Nothing, and everything, when you have no desire to leave the frame.