David Gardner: Marking Our Place


Contemplating landscapes is oft the practice of San Francisco-based photographer David Gardner. Follow him as he discovers fascinating and varied examples of humans, over centuries, making a point, whatever that point may be, in this series 'Marking Our Place in the World'.

"As humans we must communicate - it is what we do best. We seem hardwired from birth to do this via a complicated system using signs and symbols. But removed from our normal settings and tools, how do we compensate? What does it look like when we turn our communication skills loose on the landscape around us; why are we compelled to 'leave our mark' upon landscape, whether or not others understand its meaning or semiology?

In my photographic investigation of these ideas, the marks themselves are more relevant to me than the particular landscape they inhabit. I am interested in how our interventions impact the landscape, both natural and urban, in ways that are permanent as well as changed by time and nature. I explore themes of history, language and communication, while observing the dynamic of personal and group expression as it plays out on the landscape. We imagine mythical figures in the stars; we see the Virgin Mary in the knots of a tree; we are both compelled to make marks as well as to decipher their meanings. By looking at how we have marked the landscape through time, we can gain insight into our personal and collective history. To decline such a study is to leave to others the control of the world of meanings in which we inhabit." - David Gardner.

View the magazine full screen photo feature.


Chinese poem carved into the barrack wall at the immigration station/detention center at Angel Island:

Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days,
It is all because of the Mexican exclusion law which implicates me,
It's a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.
I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu's whip.
From now on, I am departing far from this building.

All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.
Don't say that everything within is Western styled.
Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.

Images © David Gardner

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