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Edges of the Experiment – The Making of the American Landscape

At the request of Fw:Books and under the heat of the 2014 summer I made numerous imaginary, armchair and late-night cinematic journeys into Monument Valley. What resulted is a lavishly illustrated essay on how that dusty and rocky land tucked away in a corner of Arizona and three other states did become iconic over the course of the 20th century. And writer and cinema enthusiast Felix van de Vorst contributed three short texts on how director John Ford has appropriated Monument Valley for his sweeping frontier film epics.

‘God’s Studio: The Iconization of Hostile and Ugly Land’ & ‘John Ford’s Monument Valley: 3 films’ have now been published in a wonderful double volume dedicated to the American landscape photographs by Marie-José Jongerius and the interactions between man and nature in the ongoing process of the “civilization” of the American West. The books have been designed and edited by Hans Gremmen. Raymond Frenken wrote all the texts accompanying Jongerius’s photographs and also delivered a nice essay on the desert music scene of southern California, around Joshua Tree National Park. 

‘Edges of the Experiment – The Making of the American Landscape’ investigates the idyllic notion of the American landscape, and shows which elements contribute to the iconic landscape, and at what cost they can be maintained. It describes the thin line between nature and civilization: how did the landscape evolve, and where are the interfaces between the organic and the artificial world, and do they fail or succeed? ‘Edges of the Experiment’ is a two-volume publication. Volume one shows over 60 photographs made over a period of ten years by Jongerius. Volume two is a collection of essays about the making of the American landscape, with texts by Mark Pimlott, Mishka Henner, Rixt Bosma & Jeremy Rowe, Hans Gremmen, Kristof Swaegers, Warren Techentin, Raymond Frenken, Elian Somers, Matthew Coolidge & Megan Steinman, Taco Hidde Bakker & Felix van de Vorst, Alex Lehnerer and William L. Fox.

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