The Departing Landscape Project

The Departing Landscape Project
Images ~ Music ~ Text    2007-2012

                                                                      * Portfolio of Links
                                                                      *  Visual Prelude
                                                                      *  Introductory Text
The Departing Landscape Project consists of a collection of related online thematic projects.  The hyperlinked project titles are listed below.  See the "Visual Prelude"  and introductory text below.      

                                      The Faint Photographs                          
                                      Portraits Faces & Figure                       
                                      Windswept Landscapes & Memorials       
                                      Visual Poems           
                                      The Combines                                         
                                      In the Woods                                           
                                      The Persephone Series                         
                                      The Abstract Photographs                    
                                      Poetry for The Departing Landscape          
                                      The Hydrofracking Suite                      

         Faint Photograph, Departing Half Dome     18x26”  

       Faint Photograph,  Departing Hudson River Valley    18x26”

                             Faint Portrait    18x18”

                                   Faint Figure: Man Walking    18x18”

                                Portrait/Face     18x18”

                   Figure with lines   21x21”

           Windswept Landscape, Meadow and Pond   18x26”

      Windswept Memorials,  Vietnam Veterans Memorial   18x26”

                                  Visual Poems - Triadic Memories #1    15x27”

                                       Combine,  Blue Spoon / Men in Suites,  18x21"

                                    In the Woods, Falling Leaves  (Solarized Collage)   18x18


                                     In the Woods, Faint Photograph  22x17”

                                    In the Woods - Inside a leaf   22x17”

                    Persephone, Queen of the Underworld    18x18"

               Abstract Photograph    21x21”

The Departing Landscape  2007-2010  

The American composer Morton Feldman (1926-1987) wrote:  

                                  Decaying sound . . . the departing landscape . . .
                                  expresses where the sound exists in our hearing--
                                  leaving us rather than coming toward us.  

This project began as a visual meditation on the decay of sound, especially inspired by the way Feldman uses sound decay in his late piano music.  But as I worked on this project I became increasingly aware of local, state, national and global issues involving the decay of the natural world, the decay of our economy and the decay of our political system.  The project took on a will of its own and gradually transitioned into being a visual poetic revery about loss and longing; it became a visual expression of grieving for the natural world we once thought we knew and which is now leaving us.

Climate change, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, dissolving coral reefs, poisoned and depleting watersheds, deforestation, disappearing species, ocean dead zones, diminishing ecosystems due to higher temperatures, the increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, extreme weather and war events, numerous forms of social, political, economic & environmental disasters and corruptions . . . are some examples of the decay of our culture and the natural environment.  These are symptomatic of the desacralization of the natural world.   Visit What is Missing.    


On December 17, 2014, under tremendous pressure from environmentalists, scientists, doctors, economists, etc.,  Gov. Cuomo announced that he would Ban hydrofracking in NY State.  At the time I created this project I was personally experiencing the threat of an environmentally devastating gas drilling process known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing, which could have been permitted at any time in the State of New York and the area in which I live known as the Finger Lakes area.  If drilling would have been permitted by the State of New York (and it has been contested by increasing number of peer reviewed studies by scientists, physicians, environmentalists, economists, and protested by many many residents including myself) large bodies of fresh water could have been poisoned, and with that organic farms, wine making vineyards, fishing, many forms of tourism, and entire communities would have been destroyed.  We would have been living in an Industrial Wasteland.  Our already fragile ozone layer is constantly being compromised by fracking in .  Climate Change will manifest in even more violent forms than Hurricane Sandy.  

In October, 2013 I leaned of an additional threat: the so called Department of Environmental Conservation, a governmental organization that is supposed to protect New York State's residents and the environment, is proposing regulations on Liquified Natural Gas.  This extremely short and poorly written document - a piece of toxic industrial waste - seems a ploy in part to help facilitate hydrofracking in the state.  It is another huge threat to New York's environment and the health and safety of its residents.

I created a website that deals with all this at the NY State level.  NoToHdrofracking.blogspot.com   It includes a series of five anti-fracking photographic projects entitled The Hydrofracking Suite which I created specifically for the website.  And I have recently added these two related web pages to this project: The Departing Landscape.  I highly recommend Sandra Steingraber's work on these issues, and for more general national coverage visit EcoWatch.com.

We humans share a fragile, interdependent relationship with the natural world and each other, and yet most evidence suggests we have - to a terrifying degree - separated ourselves from nature, each other and what’s best in ourselves.   As a consequence (read Bill McKibben’s book Eaarth and visit his website 350.org) the natural world is in a serious state of decline: Nature is leaving us; we now are living in a "departing landscape."
(In June, 2017  I added the following statement:  President Donald Trump and his administration has announced that the Unites States was pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord; Trump has also illegally permitted approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline through Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Territory, and other outrageous presidential actions against the American people and the land, and the entire planet Earth.  I am sorry to report that ten years after I initiated this project things are only continuing to worsen at an even faster and more corrupted pace.)  

Despite my despair for the current state of the world, and my fears for what the future of the lives of my children might be, the work for this expanding photography project wanted to be more lyrical than critical.  Though there are many images in The Departing Landscape through which my personal cynicism and darker feelings become quite evident (see for example the Portraits), it seems to me the collection of projects as a whole tend toward the poetic affirmation of something greater than my perception of human failings: that which is luminous and ineffable in both man and nature.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

Transcendence, in whatever form it needs to take for each person individually, may be the only true event horizon remaining for us, inhabitants of the departing landscape.  

Berry's poem "The Peace of Wild Things" reminds me that I too experience, from time to time, something like peace or freedom not only when I've been immersed in the natural landscape, but also when I've been reading certain poems, viewing a particular picture or listening to a favorite piece of music.  In these magical moments it seems as if I'm spirited away from the disintegrating world of pollution, ambitions, greed, entitlements, corruptions . . .  and carried to a hidden place of stillness, a secret space of timeless silence.  In those special moments I have rested deeply and contentedly in a space full with familiar presence . . . as if a deeper more luminous part of myself had been patiently awaiting my arrival.  

There is a stillness
On the tops of the hills.
In the tree tops
You feel
Hardly a breath of air.
The small birds fall silent in the trees.
Simply wait:  soon
You too will be silent.


The Departing Landscape Project consists of nine different but related groups of photographs, a collection of poems, the late piano music of Morton Feldman, and most recently a website about hydraulic fracturing and it's threat of devastation to New York State.  The Portfolio of Links below will allow you to visit a collection of images and introductory texts for each of the thematic groups, hear excerpts of Feldman's music, read a collection of carefully chosen poems, and an essay by Clark Lunberry.  Welcome to The Departing Landscape.

Portfolio of Links  . . . . . . . . . . . . 

To listen to excerpts of Morton Feldman's music from Louis Goldstein's most recent recording and to learn more about Feldman click here.

To read an essay by Clark Lunberry entitled Departing Landscapes: Morton Feldman’s String Quartet II and Triadic Memories, click here.

To see my related series of projects consisting of images, texts and poetry for The Departing Landscape Project, click on the highlighted project titles under the images below.

                                      The Faint Photographs                          
                                      Portraits Faces & Figure                       
                                      Windswept Landscapes & Memorials       
                                      Visual Poems          
                                      The Combines                                         
                                      In the Woods                                           
                                      The Persephone Series                         
                                      The Abstract Photographs                    
                                      Poetry for The Departing Landscape          
                                      The Hydrofracking Suite    
                                      A Meditation on Death  
                                      Color Diptychs  
                                      Death, Art I Writing

Faint Photographs

Portraits,  Faces & Figures


In the Woods  

The Persephone Series

I have been circling for a thousand years
and I still don’t know if I am a falcon,
Or a storm, or a great song                          

The Hydrofracking Suite

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The two earlier Feldman-inspired projects:

The Garage Series  1999-2001 / 2006       

  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~     

     Other Music-Inspired Projects  There have been several other music-inspired photography projects I've created over the years, the earliest dating back to 1976 in homage to an expatriate American jazz musician.  To see images and learn more about these other, earlier projects visit  Other Music-Inspired Projects.   

Related Project:  The Hudson River Valley

Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.