Nothing added, nothing removed, no Photoshop – fine art photography by Jeremie Lenoir

Home / Art / Nothing added, nothing removed, no Photoshop – fine art photography by Jeremie Lenoir


As the product of political and economic processes, the contemporary landscape has evolved today to disappear into its own constraints. The «third landscape» or «non-places» of Marc Augé are nowadays multiplying on a large scale, while saturated urban peripheries are compartmentalized in impersonal and dehumanized architecture. “When a landscape lost its consistency, it makes sense for the photographer only as a landscape which lost its consistency”, Alain Buttard said. For the past 8 years, my various projects propose to construct an anthropology of the French territories by observing their evolutions, their mutations, and by showing how gradually the forms and functions of our living areas globalized.

At the heart of vernacular spaces, my photographic studies attempt to renew the assumptions issued by the Datar and the American geographer John B. Jackson in the 80s. The photographic shots that compose them have no particular intent to deliver an objective representation of the «truth» of a landscape. By composing an ontological distancing, aerial perspective is used as a tool and not as a goal, allowing, through a very strong pictorial bias, a liberation from the codes of the discipline. Falling within the seriality, my photographs make sense without individuality, but thanks to the respect of a meticulous selection of scenes, a precise shooting protocol and deliberated disorienting picture framings. Abstraction, flatness and neutrality are here claimed as interfaces between content and form of the subjects, minutely building what Barthes referred to as «thought photographs.»

The transfiguration of the landscape embodied in abstract painting leads one firstly to question the photographic medium in its capacity to recreate reality. The introduction of real confusion between photography and painting invites the spectators to share a unique and sensitive point of view on the landscapes. With the removal of major elements (sky, horizon or any identifiable infrastructures), we are lost in an unreal universe which we are no longer able to mentally recover from our familiar viewpoint. Therefore, the only remains of reality are radical geometries or indecisive textures, totalitarian lines or confusing borders. To exit the imaginary dialectic of forms and colors, we must decipher the image to accede to the comprehension of a world that we know to be real, but we are not able to immediately accept.

In a second phase, the combination of aerial perspective and abstraction permits an investigation on the ability of our contemporary territories to deliver any form of intelligibility. What are we looking at? What are we doing? What are we building? The selection of places and their pictural representation refer to the fascinated contemplation of chaos while also providing, in their rendering, an attempt of reconciliation with a landscape possibility. Denigrated as «places», the spaces transform itself into objects that carry social commitment and reveal, as in Holger Trülzsch’s works, a «matrix» of our universalized identities and societies.

Thus, between the necessity of capturing the reality and its transfiguration into paintings, my pictures are attempting to give a new realism to our contemporary territories.


More than a selection of images, my projects are organized around a specific selection of places. By choosing to travel by planes rather than by helicopters, it is financially possible to achieve a large number of flights over each space (at least fifteen) during the course of a full year. Each flight is then used to retake photographs, to refine the position of the frames sometimes by only few millimeters, and so gradually reshape the landscape as one would making sketches or drawings. In this way, my projects have been approached more in the manner of a painter than a photographer, with the strong will that the aerial perspective remains a mere tool, but also to allow me to express my pictorial influences from painting. This approach has permitted a genuine exhaustion of the selected spaces : following their progresses through the seasons helps me to see them as obvious and abstract subjects.

As part of this continuity, all the images are recorded at the same altitude of 1500 feet, that is to say, about 450 meters from the scene. After the definition of the specific geographical area, fixing this altitude is the first element of my shooting protocol. I then always use the same fixed optics to enable consistency and accuracy in the treatment of the scale between each photograph. Experience has also shown that at a lower altitude the details identified themselves too quickly, and that at a higher altitude the relationship to the human scale was lost.

The third data protocol is the time of shooting which contributes, like altitude, to obtain a rigorous and coherent set of images. Thus, all the photographs were taken around noon, when the sun is at its zenith and the light can not be aesthetically used. It is at this time of day that the colorimetry obtained is the most neutral, the light of the sun at this time crushes all relief, all shadows, all colors. In this way, images have a very flat render, in the style of the Bechers or Stéphane Couturier for example, who worked with overcast skies. This flatness enables the emphasis of the photographed space common feature and highlights its meaning rather than its representation. Finally, all these parameters are reinforced by the choice of a direct printing technique on a raw material, that emphasizes the essential relationship in the photographs to the matters and textures.

Nothing added, nothing removed, no Photoshop