I've been experimenting this past fall and winter with what I'll call Gothic Atmosphere in my photography. This was a genre that became popular around 1850-1900 and encompassed familiar literary works such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Heart of Darkness. Historical and contemporary interpretations of the Gothic genre often focus around themes of fear, perverse sexuality, helpless, fragile young females, the supernatural, spiritual transcendence, natural beauty and gloomy, rain swept Scottish moors. While I don't condone helpless fragile females or horror films, I'm still a huge fan of classic Gothic literature.
When I read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad some twenty years ago I remember being intrigued by the way the African landscape was portrayed. The book is about a man who loses himself in his own psychological darkness, a darkness brought to life using the African jungle as a living metaphor. When Heart of Darkness was written, Gothic literature was at its height, and landscape is an important element in Gothic storytelling. I'm interested in the evolution of human relationship to nature over time and what it says about how our relationship with the ecosystem might evolve in the future. Gothic literature is an interesting point to examine.
Gothic is actually a subgenre of art, literature and music under Romanticism, (1850ish-1900ish) an ideology that replaced Classical, Renaissance and Enlightenment ideas of universal order, scientific progress and visual harmony. Romanticism and Gothic works rejected these ideas and focused on the spiritual and the supernaturally transcendent. They exhibited a renewed interest in nature, landscape and the emotional life. The landscape is often used as a metaphor to reflect the beautifully wild, untamed and darker emotional aspects of human psychological experience.
In my work I'm trying to capture some of that atmosphere of photography in the early 1900's, as well as capture a sense of moodiness, unease, or desolation in the landscape, while also highlighting the natural beauty that I appreciate most.