A Zen Lens
: An alternative way of thinking about a group of contemporary landscape photographers

  • Bethany Leitch

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The photographers explored in this thesis are: Awoiska van der Molen, Thomas Joshua Cooper, Boomoon, Minny Lee, Jungjin Lee and Janelle Lynch. These photographers have been grouped as there are common strategies in their work and process of making which are: they all photograph fundamental natural elements, they all embrace an embodied slowness as part of their process of making and there is an embodied openness in the process of viewing their work. Discussion of landscape imagery often relies on Western aesthetics, namely the sublime, the picturesque and the beautiful. However, the common strategies identified in these photographers' work have some difficulties with being discussed from a Western aesthetic perspective. Driven by the frustration of struggling to discuss the photographers’ work from a Western aesthetics point of view, this thesis considers these common strategies through a Zen Buddhist way of thinking. In the discussion of Zen Buddhism, this thesis turns to the writings of D.T. Suzuki (who discusses the idea of experiences being necessary in the understanding of Zen) and Jon Kabat-Zinn (who discusses the concept of being present in the moment in relation to Buddhist mindfulness). It is through exploring these writers that this thesis identifies key characteristics of Zen which aid the discussion of the photographers’ work. These are: being present in the moment, being contemplative and an embodied openness.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorYan Preston (Main Supervisor) & Liam Devlin (Co-Supervisor)

Cite this