Like some sort of virtual mountaineering enthusiast, Thomas Albdorf scours hundreds of images of idyllic landscapes online to splice together a picturesque postcard of a place he hasn’t been to, a souvenir of a time he hasn’t experienced.
Albdorf’s newly released book General View is a collection of photographic-based images, specifically of Yosemite National Park, that he uses to build a fictional holiday narrative of hiking in the mountains with his dad.
Albdorf explains, “I always had a longing for the big American parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, and I knew that I could source many existing images—historic black and white photography, contemporary images from people covering their trips on Instagram, up to automatically recorded images from Google Street View. Many trails are actually covered, so you can get a good idea about the park’s structure.”
Using the material he finds to “build crazy stuff in the studio”, Albdorf stages images and reconstructs the park, questioning the necessity of traveling to a place that has already been photographed over and over again.
“I am certain that the digital experience cannot—yet—replace the actual one. But as we look at more and more images of places, these images inform and shape our perception of named sites.”
In a world that is increasingly becoming more reliant on images and visual information, the ability to craft our own realities and experiences will increase. “I have a feeling that software-generated images that visually resemble photographic, lens-based pictures will shape our perception more and more.”
Toying with our understanding of traditional photography, Albdorf’s images construct a new reality that is not hard to imagine for an internet generation. “Maybe 20 years from now, there won’t be a need for conventional photography any more, and maybe also no need for humans to look at these kind of images. Maybe there’s just no need for humans any more.”
General View is a futuristic holiday photo album, a glimpse of a time where traveling to new places through virtual reality or stock images online is enough to satisfy our wanderlust. The book is out now, available from Skinnerboox.