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Shifting Ground: Transformed Views of the American Landscape

Shifting Ground: Transformed Views of the American Landscape
Rhonda Lane Howard
Seattle, Wash.: Henry Art Gallery
Publication Date: 

paper, 80 p., $20

Shifting Ground is an all-too-brief exploration of the effects of technology on our views of the American landscape. The book, a collection of six essays and appendices, examines different ways art in the past century has presented landscapes — from the 19th-century masterpieces of Carelton Watkins' photographs and William Keith's paintings to Jessica Bronson's multimedia art at the end of the 20th century.

This book may induce us to ask when technology became more important than the landscape. The reflections of technology on canvas, in print or via digital media—from Lichtenstein's dots to Char Davies' virtual realities — demonstrate how integrated devices have become in our vision of the world around us. We might find Grant Wood's technophobic landscapes or Winslow Homer's reflections appropriate and even realistic, but they, too, hint at the machine right around the corner, hidden from view, in the shadows of our memories.

Shifting Ground offers new ways to look at landscapes and encourages us to question how we capture landscapes in photographs, digital images and postcards. For those with an interest in landscapes and their interpretation, this book provides plenty of insights.

— Edward J. Valauskas, Manager, Library and Plant Information Office, Chicago Botanic Garden