Colossal oeuvre: Clifford Ross’ ’Landscape Seen & Imagined’ at MASS MoCA

Colossal oeuvre: Clifford Ross’ ’Landscape Seen & Imagined’ at MASS MoCA

Most artists are content to depict figures or render abstract designs on canvases or walls but Clifford Ross takes his artistry to considerable new heights, as evinced by his current show, ’Landscape Seen & Imagined’. Now on view at MASS MoCA as part of the exhibition are his Immersive Harmonium videos – 12 towering, 24-foot high screens in the courtyard of the 13-acre arts complex, located in North Adams, Massachusetts. At dusk, a varied playlist including Satie, Sinatra and Bach accompanies the videos, which are drenched in verdant greens and brilliant blues.

’I wanted the viewer to experience the landscape in all-enveloping ways,’ says Ross, who, for his Mountain series of images (also on display here), patented a camera – the R1 – that uses military aerial film to capture some of the highest resolution single-shot landscape photographs ever taken. 

Inside – and under the eaves of one of the 19th century, former brick textile factories – is Wave Cathedral, in which more than a million pulsating green and blue pixels replicate a stormy surf on massive LED screens. Further amplifying the tumult of the ocean, there is a dramatic recording of the pounding water. To conceptualise the piece – and capture images of undulating waves for his large-scale black and white Hurricane series – Ross ventured into the sea off of East Hampton, Long Island in the midst of a violent storm. Inspiration for his compelling images range from Turner and Courbet to the 19th century photographer Gustave Le Gray.

Also noteworthy is Ross’ inventive printing of a landscape image on a 114-foot long sheet of veneer, spanning the length of one of MASS MoCA’s largest galleries. ‘I was,’ the artist explains, ’influenced by Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church’ – seminal American painters also known for their divine, sweeping images of rugged land- and seascapes. 

If that wasn’t enough, the courtyard will also play host to a live music performance by the Brooklyn-based band Oneida – in collaboration with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth – on 8 August, utilising Ross’ installation as performance visuals. 

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