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 from Cole's first summer in the Catskill Mountains - that was removed from the vault for our review. Having been given the opportunity to review this unique document we have long desired to digitize this rare look into Cole's creative process. Doing so will enable us to create an interactive participatory virtual version that would allow people to further enter into the artist's vision.

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.

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 enhanced by technology's evolution. The Voice of the Landscape installation melds audio SoundScapes, video and stills while morphing through the language of our time - digital code - the more traditional 19th & 20th-century modalities of painting, drawing, and photography.


Thomas Cole's 1827 Sketchbook


For A Look Inside


Power Point Presentation

A File Downloads With Effects & Transitions
Click - Read Only - to Open
Click - SlideShow - to View


PDF Presentation

On Site — No Download — Without Effects & Transitions


Audio Clips


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


                      William Cullen Bryant

Cole's and His Contemporaries

Additional Readings

Related Links

It is a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; ... in the midst of American scenery — it is his own land; its beauty, its magnificence, its sublimity — all are his; and how undeserving of such a birthright, if he can turn towards it an unobserving eye, an unaffected heart!
Thomas Cole. An Essay On American Scenery, 1835

As this waterfall is the site of America's first writings about the landscape
the birthplace of its environmental movement

CoLabART invites you to co-create with us in fashioning your own poem

Our poem The Tapestry Of Hope, which contemplates our individual responsibility
for the future well-being of the Earth, is one of the earliest pieces
of interactive literature on the web in 1994

To make it your own, use its phrases to fabricate a unique statement

Your poem will be emailed to us and added to an ongoing archive

We are still in Eden; the wall that shuts us out of the garden is our ignorance and folly.
—Thomas Cole, Essay on American Scenery, 1835

Thomas Cole's 1827 Sketchbook
A Look Inside


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 throughout 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 LED/Plasma monitors. Voice of the Landscape will demonstrate the possibilities inherent in new projection systems as well as the interdisciplinary learning and interactive aspects of digital media modalities.

WebClip [42 seconds]

Four-Channel [7 minutes]


Concept [7 minutes]

our online web presence

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