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18 New Topographics Photos That Could Have Been Made in the 1970s

From the series Urban Sprawl Emptiness © Emmanuel Monzon, Bellevue, Washington

Pie in the Sky © Lauren H. Adams, Southampton, NJ

Clubhouse, Daytona Beach, Florida 2006 © Damien Drew, NSW, Australia

Feature Shoot launched The Print Swap one year ago to connect photographers around the globe. Since then, more than twenty thousand photographers have submitted their work, and over one thousand have participated in the swap. The idea is to bring the joy of making and collecting photographs into the digital age. Anyone can submit photos via Instagram by tagging them #theprintswap. Outstanding submissions are chosen as winners and printed at Skink Ink in Brooklyn. From there, they are mailed out to winners all over the world. Prints are mailed out at random, so no one knows what print they’ll receive until it arrives at their doorstep.

The Print Swap includes work across all genres, and we sorted through the archive to put together this online group show, inspired by the historic 1975 exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

The famous exhibition included work by Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Frank Gohlke, Lewis Baltz, Nicolas Nixon, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joe Deal, John Schott, and Henry Wessel, Jr. At the time, some people “got” it. Many did not. “What I remember most clearly was that nobody liked it,” Gohlke told the LA Times thirty-five years later, “I think it wouldn’t be too strong to say that it was a vigorously hated show.”

These photographers had chosen subjects that were not by any means extraordinary. They photographed motels, American suburban sprawl, industrial sites– places few people found beautiful or interesting. They actively defied the conventions of romantic, sublime landscape photography. “Some people found it unutterably boring,” Gohlke explained, “Some people couldn’t believe we were serious, taking pictures of this stuff.”

Since then, the term “New Topographics” has come to define its own genre of landscape photography. For the most part, the art world has embraced the banal realities of daily life in a built environment. Right now, there are 75,000 photographs tagged #newtopographics on Instagram. It’s still hard to explain what makes a photo a “New Topographics” photo– Is it an interesting picture of a boring thing? A boring picture that also happens to be brilliant? In any case, the simple fact remains: everyone knows a “New Topographics” photo when they see one, whether it was made in 1970 or 2017.

Here, from The Print Swap collection, are eighteen contemporary photographs made in the tradition of Shore, Adams, Gohlke, Baltz, Nixon, Deal, Schott, Wessel, and the Bechers. These photographs have traveled the world and arrived in new homes, where they are proudly displayed. I think it’s safe to say the “New Topographics” movement is here to stay. For more details on The Print Swap, visit our website and follow along at @theprintswap on Instagram.

Cargo © Sheung Yiu, Hong Kong

Untitled, From the series Arizona Pastels © Dino Kuznik, Brooklyn, NY

Shopping Cart © Morten Soerensen, Denmark 

Atlantic City, NJ © Lauren H. Adams, Southampton, NJ

Blues on the Malecón © Tristan Wheelock, Saint Petersburg, FL

Flat Tree © Rikkert Harink, The Netherlands

Curves and Zig Zags © Remi Carreiro, Toronto, Canada

Watercooler Talk © Sarah Linder, Austin, TX

From the series Urban Sprawl Emptiness © Emmanuel Monzon, Bellevue, Washington

From the series Urban Sprawl Emptiness © Emmanuel Monzon, Bellevue, Washington

General Store people © Sam Feast, London

Stop Sign Shine © Mackenzie Smith, Austin, TX

Popcorn Palmtree © Damaris Riedinger, Stuttgart, Germany

The Night Cars of America – Chrysler New Yorker © William Green, London

Six Days on the Road © Lisa Guerriero, Toluca Lake, CA

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