In 1748 Willliam Gilpin wrote 'A dialogue upon the gardens of the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Cobham, at Stow in Buckinghamshire.' Through a fictitious set of characters- Callophilus and Polypthon- Gilpin narrates a tour of the buildings and surrounding gardens, describing relationships between people, architecture, and landscape in the English Countryside while exploring ideas that he would later describe as picturesque. However, Gilpin included no images, requiring readers to imagine the environs of Stowe.
These images challenge the text using hybrid collages of digital models and GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) based images. Not analog, hyper-rendered, or uncanny, the images are legible and familiar as picturesque. The two fictitious characters are portrayed as people that would have likely not had access to Stowe but also start to highlight some of the class and power issues embedded in the text and the power dynamics embedded in English Gardens.
This image was inspired by the following the following excerpt:
"Not many Years ago I remember it only a Marsh: it surprized
me prodigiously when I first saw it floated in this manner with a Lake.
Observe, pray, what a fine Effect that old Ruin has at the Head of it:
Its Ornaments too, the Cascade, the Trees and Shrubs, half concealing,
and half discovering the ragged View, and the Obelisk rising beyond if,
are Objects happily disposed."
Marc Miller is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at Penn State University. His research focuses on representation and speculation, in addition to issues of race and diversity within the profession. When not making images about landscape narratives, he is watching tv focusing on how landscape is represented to broad audiences.