Intro to Landscape Projects


"The landscape is not seen for itself, but as a commentary upon the human condition, as a speculation upon the tension between order and disorder”. 
                                                                                                                  J M W Turner  

Starting with ‘The Phenomenal World’ in 1993, David Parker’s landscape projects mark a radical shift away from his earlier full colour work towards the narrower colour spectrum characteristic of 19th century albumen prints with their flat pale skies and dark, sharply delineated landforms - tonalities which unerringly cast us back to the Victorian age. Parker uses this restricted palette like a ‘time machine’, to bring the viewer to an awareness of the Earth’s deep antiquity and Man’s place as part of it, not apart from it. The work also marks a shift in subject matter away from movement and change - 'witnessing the times' - towards a sense of stasis and contemplation.
 
The subject of these projects is what Parker calls the mythogenic landscape: those striking geologic landforms which may stimulate reflections upon our origins and, even today, give rise in our minds to personifications of forces, demons and deities that our forebears might have venerated or feared. Human beings always sought to understand and find meaning in the world; creation myths are their early attempts to rationalise and attune themselves to the mystery of existence. 
 
In our more secular age we may be less subject to the oppressive superstitions that burdened our ancestors, but we still retain an impulse to give identity to significant landmarks and rock formations. Local stone monoliths become ‘The Old Man of This’ or ‘The Old Woman of That’. In this way too - perhaps because we fear that leaving the ‘gods’ unpropitiated would invite misfortune - the devil and the angels have accumulated vast global portfolios of real estate: towers, waterfalls, peaks, punchbowls, islands, even golf courses. 

In his photographs David Parker uses the natural world as an arena for the exploration of motifs that helped to inspire and shape creation myths. It is for this reason that locations of these pictures are not identified. Providing locations would concretise the images, set them within a known context, remove their mystery. It is their mystery that allows the viewer to respond to them in personal and imaginative ways.
 
"…he should prefer not to know the sources of the Nile, and that there should be some unknown regions preserved as hunting-grounds for the poetic imagination”.
 
                                                                                                                George Eliot,