Arts and Culture
This paper will discuss the adoption of the picturesque in landscape photographs in the Dutch East Indies at the turn of the 20th century. The role of landscape photographs to provide material for ‘geography lesson’ (Claudet, 1851) or to construct ‘imagined geographies’ (Said, 1979) of far-away land for metropolitan viewers was short-lived in colonial Indonesia. The advancement of photographic technologies in the 1850s, mainly the wet collodion process and the albumen print, allowed the professionalisation of photography that ushered in its transformation from a tool in scientific inquiry and amateur endeavour into a commodity and commercial enterprise. Depiction of picturesque tropical paradises for Western audiences was the steady income for colony-based photo studios until late 1930s. However, since the 1860s, domestic market had already taken over the production of landscape photographs that expressed and envisioned clientele’s experiences with the space and place where they lived, worked and travelled. In this light, this paper will demonstrate how photographers formulated the modernised landscape to cater to their clientele’s aspiration. And in doing so, they offered different construction of the picturesque beyond the idiomatic typological representation the ‘foreign terrain.” The analysis will be pursued through the distribution of landscape photographs in family photo albums from the period in discussion as well as in their secondary application in postcards, school plates and advertisements as exemplified in aforementioned window’s view.