Perceiving the landscape,..., is a mode of observation, perceiving the weather is a mode of being - Tim Ingold
In the soil of the sensible explores the myth of the forest in western imagination in relation to traditional notions of landscape, the picturesque and the sublime. In this series of large format images, which resonate with the memories of legends and fairy tales that nourish the myth, the fear of being alone and lost in the forest interplays with the attraction of the forbidden, the 'wild', and with a sense of wonder before nature. This project is largely inspired by Tim Ingold's work on the weather and the temporality of the landscape. Taking as a basis Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception, Ingold argues that seeing is not a one-way process starting with the objective outside world and terminating in mental representations; rather, seeing is first of all an experience of 'being in the world'. We cannot see unless we are immersed from the start in what Merleau-Ponty calls 'the soil of the sensible', that is, in a ground of being in which self and world are initially commingled. We do not so much see things as see among them. We might not see light itself, but we see in light. In the forest, we do not see the trees, but we see in-between them, and as we look at them, the trees are looking back. Viewed from within, the landscape emerges as a living process rather than spectacle, not a ready-made surface but a medium in continuous becoming in which the viewer is immersed. This project was supported by the Liz Chappell/Photofusion Bursary Award 2007 and exhibited in a solo show at the Photofusion Photography Gallery in London in 2008. Professor Tim Ingold kindly wrote an accompanying essay for the exhibition.
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