Zambian Landscapes: Introduction
In his third book, Peter Langmead captures the ever-changing rural and urban environments of Zambia. This is important, not only for the social history of Zambia but also for global heritage. In the Western-centric, material and increasingly unstable world we live in, there is an inherent risk that societies miss the value photographs add to the awareness and consciousness of our environment.
zedscape, like Postcards from Zambia and The Zambians, is a view of Zambia from a foreign perspective. The challenge of these times is that it is rare for people to experience their environments at all, either actually or through images. There was a great moment for photography when newspapers and magazines used pictures extensively, so people could experience other places. This no longer happens, and the pictures on mobile phones are not seen either.
Dr Langmead’s photographs are different simply because he has taken the photographs and published them. The selection is based on the content of the photographs and their interest in the broader context of mankind and humanity.
“The photograph was the first form in the history of mankind that could capture a slice of time!” ‘What a perfect rendition of the truth! Peter Langmead has a way of bringing out true Zambian faces and the truly authentic Zambian life just by the click of his camera. Beyond the photograph, he gives indispensable lectures on the history and art of photography and the value of pictures. Postcards from Zambia and The Zambians both speak to the importance of capturing the moment, because a picture is worth a thousand words.’ Brenda Muntemba, Author
Zambezi river, Zambia
The history of photography, which technically starts in 1829 with Niépce and Daguerre, really begins with art more generally, even with cave painting. But this far back does not tell us much about the development of modern landscape art, which starts around the advent of miniature paintings, perhaps by Hubert van Eyke, painted in 1414-17. All but one of these were destroyed in a fire in 1904, coincidently a few years after the land north of the Zambezi River became Northern Rhodesia under the British South Africa Company.
So, how did modern landscape painting develop and what has been its impact on landscape photography? And, in our contemporary world, do the economic phenomena of migration to cities and climate change affect demand for landscapes pictures?
Modern landscape art
There are two views of landscape: Kenneth Clark (1949) implies a landscape is made into art by an artist, which assumes that the landscape was already there. It may appear pedantic but, actually, it is the land that is already there, so Andrews’ (1999) view, that land is made into a landscape by the artist, is more realistic.
Any picture can be described as aesthetically beautiful, whatever the subject. An image is composed, of colours, textures, shades, perspectives, lines and accents, whether or not it is beautiful to the observer. It can be abstract, use symbols, or be read as a story, or represent an object, animate or inanimate.