Drawing inspiration from the Fine Arts Museums' exceptional holdings in 19th-century landscape paintings, Elliot Anderson (b. 1960) explores the visual ideals encoded in these canvases. Anderson uses a self-designed software program to search for snapshots that tourists have uploaded on the Internet. Collecting pictures from these amateur sites with titles similar to those of the paintings in the museum—such as Yosemite Valley and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone—he creates translucent film images that are combined into a single composite photograph. The resulting scene is displayed in a light box in order to make visible the layering of images, the aggregation of which represents an "average" viewpoint. By mapping the continuity of views and perceptions that have been received and encoded historically, these works connect contemporary museum visitors to their 19th-century ancestors and the ongoing set of assumptions that inform the tourist's experience in the landscape.
Developed by Daniell Cornell, the Fine Arts Museums' Director of Contemporary Art Projects, Collection Connections presents new works that aim to reinterpret traditional objects from the de Young's collections. Collection Connections is generously funded by the Annenberg Foundation.