Midwest Landscape as Sacred Space: Visualizing the Sociology of Religion
This article appealed to my interests much more than the other two that I read this week. Quinney published this piece as a kind of spiritual and philosophical travelogue. He used landscape photography and the reflective essay to illustrate his perspective.
Unlike the Taking Pictures of Jesus article, Quinney’s photographs and descriptive language actually accurately represent the human experience of reality. He does not claim truth where it clearly does not exist. The concepts that he addresses in his text that coincide with the photographs include the following:
The move back home is a spiritual trip of reconciliation. Each photograph is taken in his hometown, on the roads of DeKalb County, Illinois.
“In solitude rather than isolation, we lose ourselves to the higher self (223).” Each photograph depicts the lonely and uninhabited nature of his hometown. There is very little indication of human presence. His photographs feature a few cars, the frame of a vehicle window, a lonely cross erected in front of an open field, a seemingly unending country road, and secluded or outdated building structures.
“In this immediate moment is eternity. Time has been transcended (223).” Each photograph seems to transcend time in its own way. There is the feeling that the fields will never end, the dirt country road never stops winding, the buildings will never fall, and the cars will never rust. Life seems slower, more durable, outlasting.
“Simplicity, given the complexity of our age, must be learned through practice (229).” Quinney uses his photography as a tool to practice and expand his appreciation of simple countryside landscapes.
“The way is known only in traveling. The traveler-with patience-follows the path wherever it leads. There may be few signs along the way. And the end is never in sight (231).” There is no beginning or end to Quinney’s photographs, the only signs or definitive subjects are religious in nature, and the idea that is consistent throughout all of his photographs is the journey - not the destination.
“The journey home is no more or less than the awareness that comes with the living of each moment, day by day. The way is simple, yet the truth must constantly be repeated. I am this whole world. The search for a spiritual home in this Midwest landscape is just that much (231).” This photographic series finds beauty in simplicity, honesty in open spaces, awareness in the conventional, and emphasizes the repetition of simplicity and solitude throughout.