Deciphering the Cultural Landscape...

For the meaning of the ordinary is rarely obvious. We regard all landscapes as symbolic, as expressions of cultural values, social behavior, and individual actions worked upon particular localities over a span of time. Every landscape is an accumulation, and its study may be undertaken as formal history, methodically defining the making of the landscape from the past to the present. And every landscape is a code, and its study may be undertaken as a deciphering of meaning, of the cultural and social significance of ordinary but diagnostic features.

-D. W. Meinig
The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (1979)

Reading this book of geographical essays edited by D.W.Meinig has helped me to better understand an underlying cohesion among many of the landscapes I have photographed over the past several years. I would not necessarily have grouped these images together for presentation or review prior to the conscious realization of their being cultural studies. This attempt at "deciphering the meaning" of the social landscape is for me directly related to what Stieglitz referred to as the "severe mental process, that taxes all the artist's energies". The day to day anguish in deciding "what you have to say, and how to say it". It is this taxing mental process that drives me to seek out books like this, and it is so rewarding to find the connecting narratives and theories behind those of us who visually search the cultural landscape for meaning.

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