But my initial reading of these photographs takes me down the wrong path. I imagine myself in the American West here. I think I see the arid canyonlands, the dry hills of the Great Basin, the coastal boulders along the Pacific shore. I feel like I recognize that panoramic view, that landscape shot from a high reference point that proclaims the photographer (and his nation) master of all he surveys.
We see based on what we already know.
Although he starts as a picker, DeSieno eventually becomes more like a curator or archivist
The genius here lays not in taking the photograph in the first place, but in spotting it after it has already been made, selecting it from among hundreds of thousands of other surveillance images generated in precisely the same way. Although he starts as a picker, DeSieno eventually becomes more like a curator or archivist, sifting through thousands of screen shots, searching for images that best suit his needs.
He may not be taking the photographs, but he is thinking like a photographer when he makes his visual selections based on the aesthetic composition of the image, on how the images will work together, and on what raises interesting questions about the very meaning of landscape photography.
Read the rest of Martha A. Sandweiss’s essay in Marcus DeSieno’s new book No Man’s Land. Now available for purchase at Daylight Books.