Can the deconstruction of a landscape be considered a progression?

Can the deconstruction of a landscape be considered a progression?

Matthew Wilson

This mixed media diptych shows the process and progression that is undertaken through human interaction with a specific fragment of a landscape. It is inspired by Walter Benjamin's 1940 essay, 'Theses on the Philosophy of History', which describes a figure called the 'Angel of History', facing destruction caused by a storm propelling him into the future. Benjamin describes the storm as progression, while the angel wishes to rebuild the past. The essay serves as a critique of emphasising the significance of a time and space, particularly a historical period or location.

This work shows two images of a chalk mineral on blackboard surfaces. The first has been processed into an unnatural geometric form, while the second shows it split in two through drilling. The blackboard backgrounds are scattered with partially erased chalk writings/drawings. In relation to Benjamin’s text, it asks questions of humankind’s need to process and deconstruct a landscape: are we better off learning from our mistakes and developing upon them, as opposed to rebuilding something as it was, without considering how the deconstruction affects society? Does a piece of chalk cease to be just that if it is removed, altered, and studied to breaking point?


The John Byrne Award