In recent times, the complexity —and rich potentialities— of our contemporary world is being fruitfully described and depicted by photographers and visual artists. The interest of urban landscape at large, understood as the natural scenario of our contemporaneity, expands its borders and boundaries towards a more intricate appraisal of the territory and our physical (body) and conceptual (inhabitant) relationship with it. As the following papers explore, it is not just a matter of arranging a visual report —from a documentary perspective— of the space we live in but, rather, interpret and suggest the threats and opportunities that our personal dialog with the territory implies. As every negotiation, this conversation implies mediation, a pulse between a desired natural balance and the dramatic and unconscious footprints of our human action. Our presence —passive or active, spiritual and fleshly— is no more innocuous. By being at and dwelling the territory, the place gains the constrictions of an often contradictory conciliation. It is there where a thrilling visual narrative emerges, where the accurate and sensible eye of the visual artist finds a highly potential field of exploration and complaint.
In this regard, the series of Gavin Brown —as McNamara examines— in the city of Houston focuses on the logic transition from a documentary depiction of the some iconic elements of the built environment as once pointed out by the photographers of the American new topography to a wider understanding of those messy scenarios and spots concerning their personal, social and economic imbrications. Playing with ambivalence notion of the vernacular, McNamara sees in Browns’ work an attempt to extent the essence of a particular visual target (reality) to a generic or even alienating notion of the speculative ideas it conveys (mental catalog). To do so, Brown uses a particular photographic language: every image is a visual construct in which the techniques and compositional strategies determines the scope of its reading. e camera and the artist’s eye become the filters under which to accomplish this disembodied and decontextualized reality interpretation.