Landscape photography is a rich and long-running genre, with a history almost as old as the medium itself. Within it are a few traditions which I would like to highlight. Some photographers take the awe-inspiring approach, creating monumental shots in the Romantic tradition, making the viewer feel the full splendor of the natural world (see: George Steinmetz). Other artists show a different side of things – the effect of man on nature. These photographs focus on humanity’s unparalleled power to shape the surrounding world, for good and bad (Edward Burtynsky’s work comes to mind). And then there are those that focus on the miracle of the detail and the beauty of what we can’t see with the naked eye (a popular category as it turns out, but Imamori Mitsuhiko’s work is a nice example).
It is among these traditions which Evgeny Molodtsov’s work is operating, but in an intriguingly unorthodox way. His main method is reappropriation: the “Earth Herbarium” series takes us from the robotic scanning eye of GoogleMaps to the quirky personality of Instagram photos all the way to photos of Mars. Molodtsov also includes photos which he took: carefully composed infrared pictures of plants. From these disparate sources, Molodtsov creates a series of diptychs. Ultimately, the series goes beyond the usual environmental commentary to blur the line between the various forms of nature photography. By showing us the commonality between the bristles of a dandelion and the surfaces of planets, the series’ artistic achievement is connecting things that most of us usually keep safely apart.