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Recent Terrains #6

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Laurie Brown, American, b. 1937
Recent Terrains #6, 1991
Gelatin silver print on paper
34 in. x 49 in. (86.36 cm x 124.46 cm)


Object Type: Photography
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Gift of the Artist
Accession Number: 2011.2.1


Commentary
Recent Terrains #6 is part of Laurie Brown’s ongoing documentation of human intervention in the natural terrain. “Terraforming,” as Laurie Brown calls it, contributes to the vanishing frontier in the West. In this photograph, the tracks of giant bulldozers are evidence of the razed and reshaped landscape in advance of a new housing development in Orange County, California. “I am interested in the story of the Western landscape,” she notes, “which is part of our history, and the mythology of the West connected to expansion.” Brown continually photographs the dividing line between nature and culture. “It is important for me to connect with that sense of being at the boundary, where there is evidence of the changes taking place on the land,” she notes. She frames this line within the context of open space. Using a panoramic field camera, Brown creates wide vistas, which have a sense of vast expanse continuing beyond the frame. Brown sees the landscape with the dual vision of an archaeologist, who pays close attention to the ground, and the astronomer, who is focused on the sky. The meeting point of earth and sky in the horizon is always important to her: “I like looking at the horizon,” she says, “the edge of the earth, as well as the land nearby, with its rocks, stones, and sand, the elemental stuff of earth.” Recent Terrains #6 takes us to the edge. Mary Davis MacNaughton Associate Professor of Art History

Object Description
As quoted by the artist:

In 1990 I purchased a new medium format camera. It was a Fuji G-617 panoramic field camera, which requires 120 film, allowing only four images to a roll. I have always used this camera with a tripod and a shutter release cable. A few months later I began photographing with black and white film on a focused project that I eventually called Recent Terrains. My book from this project, RECENT TERRAINS: Terraforming the American West, was published in the year 2000 by The Johns Hopkins University Press, in conjunction with The Center for American Places. Recent Terrains #6 can be found on page 17 of the book.

During the 1990s and through the early 2000s many photographs from this series were exhibited in art galleries, in both group shows and in one person shows. This photograph, RECENT TERRAINS #6, was one of several select images that were printed in a large size and framed for exhibition purposes.

Like a majority of the pictures in the project, this photograph was taken in Orange County, California, just a few miles from the city of Laguna Beach, which is where I lived at the time. The spot where I stood to take Recent Terrains #6 would be about a quarter of a mile east of El Toro Rd, and a quarter of a mile south of Aliso Creek Rd., with the camera lens pointing south, looking towards what is now the 73 Toll Road in the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor. When the photograph was taken this area was on the edge of Laguna Hills and it has since been incorporated into the town of Laguna Woods.

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