Second Scape

Brian Goeltzenleuchter and Stephen Ellis, Second Scape Series, pigment print, all 16" x 20", 2007
Image titles in order or appearance:
Second Scape: Dragon Moon (211,154, 14), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007
Second Scape: Secret Reflections (18, 117, 16), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007
Second Scape: Tir Niva (140, 154, 171), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007
Second Scape: Straylight (217, 15, 36), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007
Second Scape: Sanctum Sanctorum (162, 48, 18), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007
Second Scape: Secret Reflections (61, 164, 23), pigment print, 16" x 20", 2007

Notes on Second Scape


In the essay "Photography between Labour and Capital," Allan Sekula wrote about the scientific and artistic 'dualism' that he claimed 'haunts photography.'  The former scientific imperative seeks objective truth; the latter artistic imperative embraces subjective experience. While one can read the genre of landscape photography through either lens, in so doing, one accepts and propagates this dualistic false dilemma. 

The work of collaborators Stephen John Ellis and Brian Goeltzenleuchter argues for socio-aesthetic hybrids in an attempt to explain representations of self through visual artifacts. In Second Scape the duo seeks to record the socially constructed landscapes created in the online, virtual world, Second Life. According to its website, Second Life is "a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents”. The landscapes in Second Life, therefore, are entirely socially constructed, and reference the plurality of values characteristic of its over one million residents. 

To accomplish this, Ellis and Goeltzenleuchter created virtual alter egos, or avatars, and built a photography studio in Second Life (Virtually Human Photography). Their avatars are social documentarians who travel extensively to survey and capture the topography of the Second Life landscape. Their avatars’ personae seek to exaggerate the subjectivities inherent in documentary photography, while simultaneously privileging the dynamic ways the landscape is imagined in this virtual world. The photographs function as memorials to fantasy landscapes.