Chris Larson’s Shotgun Landscape was very intriguing to me because it delineates time in an interesting way. Larson took a large black panel of wood and set it up in a rural Minnesota landscape. He then shot the panel with 12 gauge shotguns 376 times. Larson’s instillation is composed of three parts, a projected film, a series of photographs and the large wooden panel that he shot through. I was fortunate enough to experience the instillation in what I perceive was a backwards order. I started with the series of photographs then moved to the panel and finally saw the film.
I quickly recognized the photos as a continuous landscape viewed through holes created by a shotgun. This series first brought my attention to the delineation of time recalling another artist, David Hockney, who successfully used photography to explore time in a new way through photo collages. The holes made from the shotgun slowly reveal the landscape in much the same way. If only one of the photos was viewed without the context of the others it would only achieve mediocrity as an interesting landscape study. However, when viewed together they activate the landscape through time and achieve a depth of animated exploration.
The wooden panel was the next element I viewed. The panel is the most important element of the installation because it served as the canvas for the painting - its demise revealing the finished landscape. Christopher Larson could have easily left the panel in the rural field or thrown it away in a dumpster but it’s inclusion in the installation brings a necessary element of scale within the photographs but also the scale of the framed landscape. It serves as tangible evidence of the 376 shotgun blasts and the tactile materiality of the work.
Finally, the film element views the entire process of the work- all 15 minutes necessary to expose the landscape. The interesting and somewhat fresh idea with the film is that nothing was left on the cutting room floor. It is a continuous shot bringing the tactile materiality of the panel into a new understanding of how it became that way. This too highlights the delineation of time. So much of what we view and read and listen to has been edited down, cropped and spliced to a concise set of ideas that the element of time is underappreciated. Our culture is increasingly reliant on efficiency and conserved time. There are moments in the film when no shots are fired for mysterious reasons (maybe reloading shells or checking the camera equipment) these moments of anticipation are luxuries of experiencing the artist working rather than the artist’s work. The use of a shotgun is also an interesting use of time because the disappearance of material is immediate. This brings an element of stop motion- almost still photography- into the continuous film, which is seemingly the reverse of the photographic sequence. It would be completely different if the artist used small sheet of paper and poked the holes with pins.
Another interesting exploration would be to see the film in reverse as the landscape is concealed with pieces of black wood falling perfectly into place.