Tim Simmons’s carefully composed photographs of places as far flung as Scotland and Los Angeles are sometimes described as “uncanny”. Freud theorised the uncanny as “everything… that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light.” He listed shadows, mirrors and doppelgangers of all sorts as examples of uncanny phenomena. As a type of double, photographs possess an uncanny quality in resembling – yet refusing to embody – familiar things. The subject matter and mode of representation of Simmons’s unsettling images are uncertain: nature seems estranged and unfamiliar, while the images obstinately refuse to declare their ontology or true nature.
Simmons documents nature, or rather “humanature” to use a neologism coined by the photographer Peter Goin. Goin uses it to describe a hybrid terrain of natural and man-made features such as artificial lights, plantations, landscape design and so on. Sitings of such altered landscapes began to emerge after the second world war with the coming of new suburbs, expressways, theme parks and airports. The critic Robert A. Sobieszek noted that between 1956 and 1979, the year of Tarkovski’s film, “Stalker”, “new order of landscape had taken hold of the imagination”, that was foreshadowed by T.S. Eliot. His “fabled wasteland had completely displaced sylvan pastorals and Edenic backdrop.”
- From the Catalogue Essay by David Brittain
Exhibition: Nature and Nation, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, 2009, by Tim Simmons