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theory as product
The Landscape Initiative
The Analogous Landscape
The Perfect View
The Other Path
The C5 GPS Media Player
The Perfect View

The Perfect View is an exploration of sublimity. Employing the growing number of people using GPS devices as a means for recreational exploration, C5 asked geocaching enthusiasts across the US to recommend locations they thought were sublime. The latitude and longitude coordinates provided by the respondents became the waypoints (guide points) for a thirty-three state, thirteen thousand mile motorcycle expedition by C5 member Jack Toolin, and the photographic subject matter of this project.

Starting in San Jose, California, the route vaguely resembles a figure eight, stretching border to border, from the West Coast to the East Coast, and from Texas to Michigan. All told, twenty-five sites were visited and documented. While most of the trip was spent traveling alone, camping in parks and occasionally moteling it, Toolin spent time with several of the people who recommended sites. During these visits, the geocache enthusiasts conveyed their excitement about exploration and discovery, and about the comaraderie they shared with fellow adventurers. The sites ranged from mountain lookouts to shoreline expanses, roadside vistas to secluded hideouts. While only some of the sites were sublime in themselves, the search for sites led Toolin through a unique path around the country.

While a number of themes or criteria could have been the basis for selecting sites, sublimity was chosen due to parallels between the rise of landscape art as a genre during the Industrial Revolution, and the interest in exploration in our own technological revolution. Reaching at least as far back as antiquity, Western civilization has contemplated the phenomenon of sublimity. Roman philosopher Longinus asserted various conditions for affective literature; Renaissance and Baroque artists expressed the sublime through religious iconography; 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke pondered the impact of sublime through encounters with extraordinary nature as did the Romantic movement. While in the late 20th century landscape was largely subordinated to postmodernism's predilection towards meaning and culture, there is currently a renewed interest in landscape.

Speculation about the reasons for current interest in landscape generates some possibilities: reaction to the hegemony of computer technology and the accompanying emphasis on virtual space; economic and political tumult sparking desire for relief; reaction to Postmodern irony. C5's interest in landscape stems from our fascination with how people interact with data, and how data influences the way we interact with our environment. The increasing availability of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology to the general public provides a fertile field for this work. Sampling the sublime via this technology and the people who use it is the basis for Perfect View.

View exhibition documentation of The Perfect View, from The C5 Landscape Initiative debut exhibition at San Francisco Camerawork.