Photography is as much about what is just beyond the picture frame as what is in its focus. When landscape unfolds itself in the camera lens, we find ourselves ushered to distant quiet places. But for all its nature, the true, invisible subject of pastoral imagery is time. James Scott Geras records the intersection between wilderness and humanity to reveal the coincidence between a specific moment and timelessness. His photographs seek not to distinguish landscape as civilization’s foil, but to document the detente between man’s design and nature’s will, where moss on hewn stone and overgrown path evidence time’s inexorable passage.
The truth in the rutted road and its shimmering puddle is that man’s control is illusory and temporary, a reign of never-ending pruning and shoring up of walls. Yet, the deep field of vision and dark silhouettes subvert concrete details and perpetuate an impression of alternate reality. The moody skies and lacey brocade of branches give life to our romantic nostalgia where we can believe that such a scene has existed for centuries. But, slowly the universal image comes into specific focus. Pattern and texture reveal the orchard, the alley, the redwood stand and we are drawn out of suspended time into scenes of France and the American West Coast. The distant chateau, the balustrade, and a looming stone tower reveal designs to live well within, albeit comfortably separate from, the landscape. Tree-lined roads, bridges and manicured gardens reflect the desire to coerce nature to a preconceived plan. However, such architecture, the ubiquitous symbol of humanity, is constantly diminished by natural growth and temporal erosion. A single large tree stands century to time, its every branch reaching skyward beyond man’s control. A staircase or statue may dominate the foreground, but just outside it is the landscape that frames and patiently endures man’s every ambition