Consult the genius of the place in all;
That tells the waters or to rise, or fall;
Or helps th’ ambitious hill the heav’ns to scale,
Or scoops in circling theatres the vale;
Calls in the country, catches opening glades,
Joins willing woods, and varies shades from shades,
Now breaks, or now directs, th’ intending lines;
Paints as you plant, and, as you work, designs.
Alexander Pope, Epistle IV, to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington
Originally referring to the presiding protective deity or spirit of the place, in contemporary usage, ‘genius loci‘, refers to a location’s distinctive place-ness, not just the topography but the culture and politics of the society that shaped it.
How do photographers show this identity embedded in a place? What pricks the viewers sense of spirit in one image while making them indifferent to another? Does local insider knowledge or a visitors outside perspective prove more successful? How do stereotypes effect our recognition of the real ‘spirit of a place’?
Genius Loci – Thomas Kellner
Please see the previous post.
Roluff Beny captured the epic, sublime, untouched and wild expanses. Owen Perry continues to use local knowledge to find the breathtaking in a harsh environment. Geoffrey James makes use of unusual formats to give a sense of Ottawa.
Marc Riboud visited China from 1957 documenting the propaganda years of Mao through to the opening capitalism of the 1990’s. The difficulty in how an outsider finds the spirit of the country is touched upon in the introduction to his book by Jean Grenier –
A reality for more than a billion people who live there, China is a myth for the five and a half billion others, registering as such on the worlds imagination.
Victoria Alexander provides a recent look at the country.
Before Victorian nostalgia defined the image of Edinburgh completely Hill and Adamson captured the spirit of the city at photography’s inception.