Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.

Photo essay: looking in on the landscape

Tracing the contours of the interior across countries and through history, the AR draws together intimate moments captured by photographers who look inside for their subjects

Looking in on the landscape 01

Looking in on the landscape 01

Left: one of Jacques Henri Lartigue’s earliest photographs (1904) in which he set his camera afloat in the tub, aged 10. Courtesy of Jacques Henri Lartigue Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Right: Martina Mullaney’s Dinner For One series (1998) Courtesy of Martina Mullaney

Locked tight away from the inimical outside, from the air’s mute buzzing, the eye turns in. Photographers point their lenses back towards themselves, towards the home and its happenings, and the camera – as a mechanical tool of hard truth and fixity, of cool representation – becomes also an agent of distortion. Through endless, tireless looking, the intricately known is set to sea as familiar forms shift and expand into broad and alien territories, the lingering image drifting aslant into an uncanny ocean.

Looking in on the landscape 02

Looking in on the landscape 02

Left: Untitled by William Eggleston (c1973) Courtesy of William Eggleston

Right above: In My Room, My Collection of Model Racing Cars (1905) by Jacques Henri Lartigue. Courtesy of Jacques Henri Lartigue Ministère de la Culture (France), MAP-AAJHL

Right below: from Fumi Ishino’s book of photography Rowing a Tetrapod (2018) Courtesy of Fumi Ishino

The eyes go to ground, to rub into carpet bristles’ open field, to crawl. The same desks, chairs and cabinets now loom large, monumental entities taking on the city’s scale with toy trucks to whizz around mouse houses and slip under shoe. The softnesses yielded by the linen’s grain, the droop of the sash and the pink-plumed breeze are unbounded in their feeling. They are too much; swelling, bursting in the lungs. They fleet at the limits of reverie.

Looking in on the landscape 03

Looking in on the landscape 03

Left: between 1975 and 1976 Masao Mochizuki stayed at home and photographed his television screen. Courtesy of Masao Mochizuki / AKIO NAGASAWA Gallery

Right above: in Being Together (2010), John Clang projected the transmissions of his family’s webcams in Singapore onto his own living space in New York City. Courtesy of John Clang / Courtesy FOST Gallery

Right below: Untitled (Nashville) (2017), from Lorena Lohr’s Ocean Sands series. Courtesy of Lorena Lohr 

Scenes from the outside are beamed in, accruing in a dense layer of transparency that hangs in thick folds over the familiar structures that make up the home. We are left reaching for loved ones with wires and interconnective networks, distances long and short alike flattening with the projection of parallel realities. Social lines are all imbued with the screen’s unlifely transmission, with the crackle and scratch of a tight electrical coil, a digital ether that encompasses and yet lies slightly out of grasp.

Looking in on the landscape 04

Looking in on the landscape 04

Left: from Laura Letinsky’s Hardly More Than Ever series, taken in 2001. Courtesy of laura letinsky / DOCUMENT / Yancey Richardson Gallery

Right above: Margaret Watkins’ The Kitchen Sink (1919) Courtesy of The Estate of Margaret Watkins / Robert Mann Gallery

Right below: from Martina Mullaney’s Dinner For One series (1998) Courtesy of Martina Mullaney

All around, tall stacks and toppling towers of crockery build up in vast conurbations over every horizontal plane; delicate still lifes constructed in the relentless operations of living, of eating and washing and eating again. Divisions of labour and other ancient genderings are brought bare-boned into exposure as the kitchen’s beating heart flows into the spaces surrounding, the many foodstuffs and their various vessels gathering up in an object array to be picked over or ploughed.

Looking in on the landscape 05

Looking in on the landscape 05

Left above: taken by Khadija Farah as part of The Journal, a collective series run by Women Photograph documenting the lives of women and non-binary photographers in quarantine. Courtesy of Khadija M Farah

Left below: from Performance Under Working Conditions (2003) by Allan Sekula. Courtesy of Allan Sekula Studio

Right: from Sentimental Journey (1971) by Nobuyoshi Araki. Courtesy of Nobuyoshi Araki

Amid this weirding world, this shrunken city, the bed becomes the curtained crux: a stage of sex and sleep and last source of comfort. Quiet intimacies are played out from between its sheets, unfolding in tensely woven bands between cohabitants. Made frayed or tender by constant contact, by aching, inescapable nearness, these gentle abrasions, the peculiar patterns that are drawn in the fabric between, are what will leave a mark.

Looking in on the landscape 06

Looking in on the landscape 06

Practicing Golf Swing (1982) comes from Larry Sultan’s 1992 book Pictures From Home, a memoir documenting both his own life and the lives of his parents. Courtesy the Estate of Larry Sultan / MACK Books / Casemore Kirkeby

This piece is featured in the AR June 2020 issue on Inside – click here to buy your copy today