Voice of the Landscape



T h o m a s C o l e

Painter, Poet, Prophet

From Kaaterskill Falls

to the 21st Century

An immersive installation that utilizes the new brushes of the digital age
to take America’s sense of place landscape tradition
from its birthplace - Kaaterskill Falls
into the virtual realm.

A transformative visualization of the new century’s
experiential learning potential
through the hybridity of
art and technology.

CoLabART - Lynn Small + Dennis Paul
Earth Elegies III



The waterfall…
at once presents to the mind the beautiful,
but apparently incongruous idea,
of fixedness and motion - a single existence
in which we perceive unceasing change
and everlasting duration.
The waterfall may be called
the voice of the landscape,
for, unlike the rocks and woods
which offer sounds as the passive instruments
played upon by the elements,
the waterfall strikes its own chords,
and rocks and mountains re-echo in rich unison…

THOMAS COLE - from one of his notebooks




The Voice of the Landscape project draws inspiration from Kaaterskill Falls, the Hudson River Valley and the first public lands set aside for future generations - the Catskill Preserve in New York State. Since the early 19th century, this area has served as a wellspring for American painting, literature, philosophy, and environmentalism. This major piece has been stimulated by early America's creative voice and our desire to transform the sense of place landscape tradition. Voice of the Landscape seeks a new fluidity of expression that morphs traditional art forms into the new digital realm.

During our fall 2003 joint-residency fellowships to Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, NY the project was greatly enhanced by utilizing the facilities at Skidmore College's Media Technology Center and the Manuscript and Special Collections Division of the New York State Library, Albany, that holds much of Thomas Cole's original materials. This includes a fragile 1827 sketchbook - his first summer in the Catskill Mountains - that was removed from the vault for our review. We have long desired to digitize this rare look into Cole's creative process, thus designing an interactive participatory virtual version that, projected into the air, would allow people to enter the artist's vision.

We wish to thank those who so graciously assisted us in our efforts and, of course, all at Yaddo - where CoLabART was birthed nearly four decades ago - that have enabled so much of our collaborative journey.

Much as photography, film and video have changed the fixed images of painting, the digital domain has radically and forever altered the making of marks. This new palette of tools extends the parameters of imagination and makes possible the ability to create a dialogue among the visual arts, literature, the inspiring sounds of nature, and the experiential world to be.

Often this work-in-progress - in development for some time - has been enhanced by technology's evolution. From its inception, however, it has always been our desire to seek an expression that speaks to our times - a
new 21st century beginning of America's sense of place tradition. Voice of the Landscape melds digital SoundScapes, video and stills while morphing the more traditional 19th & 20th century modalities of painting, drawing, and photography.

Thomas Cole's 1827 Sketchbook
A Look Inside



           To him in the love of Nature holds
       Communion with her visible forms,
                She speaks a various lanuage;...


                      William Cullen Bryant




Power Point Presentation

Larger File - Long Download - Has Effects/Transitions

PDF Presentation

On Site - Faster - No Download - Without Effects/Transitions


Audio Clips

Cole's and His Contemporaries

Additional Readings

Related Links

Thomas Cole's 1827 Sketchbook
A Look Inside

WebClip [42 seconds]


No single channel video can adequately demonstrate the immersive quality of this multimedia installation. Our original SoundScape is a holosonic sound field presented with parabolic SoundSpheres thoughout the installation space. The visual field environment morphs with the exhibition space and equipment encompassing multiple wall and floor projections playing simultaneously with additional feeds to LCD/Plasma monitors. Voice of the Landscape will demonstrate the possibilities inherent in new projection systems and the interdisciplinary learning aspects of digital media modalities.

Four-Channel [7 minutes]


Concept [7 minutes]




Cole's Hand

NYS Library Archives


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