Landscape and Power

Theses on Landscape

  1. Landscape is not a genre of art but a medium.
  2. Landscape is a medium of exchange between the human and the natural, the self and the other. As such, it is like money: good for nothing in itself, but expressive of a potentially limitless reserve of value.
  3. Like money, landscape is a social hieroglyph that conceals the actual basis of its value. It does so by naturalizing its conventions and conventionalizing its nature.
  4. Landscape is a natural scene mediated by culture. It is both a represented and presented space, both a signifier and a signified, both a frame and what a frame contains, both a real place and its simulacrum, both a package and the commodity inside the package.
  5. Landscape is a medium found in all cultures.
  6. Landscape is a particular historical fonnation associated with European imperialism.
  7. Theses 5 and 6 do not contradict one another.
  8. Landscape is an exhausted medium, no longer viable as a mode of artistic expression. Like life, landscape is boring; we must not say so.
  9. The landscape referned to in Thesis 8 is the same as that of Thesis 6.

–W. J. T. Mitchell