In order to have a feel for landscape you have to lose your feeling of place.

(J.F. Lyotard, from “Scapeland” 1989)


In his essay “Scapeland” (1989), Lyotard apprehends a sense of landscape as a kind of non-space which defies topography, history and geography. His is a bleak picture of a guarded, clandestine, unreal, uninhabitable space without destiny. For Lyotard a landscape is a violent, disruptive force; like a freeze frame of a camera it seizes time, interrupting the linear narrative and the order of place (1989: 216). It is impossible to describe with words – somehow they become cumbersome and heavy – which are powerless because the landscape has already worked on the mind, dissolving it, and has “made it vomit itself up towards the nothingness of being there” (1989: 20-21). […] I often feel that the act of taking a photograph is intrusive, almost aggressive […] The negation of place which is landscape is violent in its passivity. It is there, yet it arrests us, and denies us something at the same time.

[extract from an essay I wrote about in-between space in 2002]


scapelands8scapelands2 scapelands3 scapelands4 scapelands5scapelands11



© images and words Emily Hughes, 2014



17 Comments on “scapelands

  1. I struggle with Lyotard’s ideas, of which I know almost nothing (I’m sure that’s why!) but I appreciate the thinking and the engagement – and your images, for sure!

    • Yes i know what you mean. I don’t entirely feel comfortable with his ideas either but i like when simeone makes me look at something in a different light. Appreciate your comment!

      • Finally back here – like what you said about 2014, life is too busy! The white flag is clenched between my teeth! 🙂 But I want to add that I really enjoy the thoughtfulness of your blog.

      • thanks so much! And lovely to see you. Here’s to a calmer 2015 (though somehow it’s not really working out that way!!)

  2. Those are interesting thoughts, Emily.
    I love your images, I am especially struck by the colours in the first one for some reason.

  3. A fascinating concept Emily which somehow reminds me of our absolute tininess in the scheme of things . . . absolutely beautiful images.

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