TIMELESS AND heartless may best describe the scenes by four photographers now on view at the Corcoran, although the pictures are all landscapes and cityscapes taken within the past decade by artists who apparently love their subjects.
The photographers all were at pains to avoid including artifacts by which their scenes could be located in time or, in many cases, even in space. In the process, for better and worse, most of the images also have become detached from the human scale against which we cannot help but measure things and places. The show is called "Terra Sancta," yet these do not seem to be holy lands.
Frank DiPerna went out into the deserts of the American West and northern Mexico, the land of our national myth. He approached the hot and arid country quite coolly, and found vantage points for his camera that most of us would not have thought to use. The result is that someone who may have visited the same national parks he shows, and may even have stood very nearly where DiPerna stood, may not recognize the scenes he captured, or be moved by them.
Arnold Kramer went to Israel and the Sinai, the Holy Land and ancient cockpit of Arab, Christian and Jew, and rendered the storied countryside lifeless and unappealing. His scenes seem woodenly centered on general views, as though Kramer was just passing through, thinking of nothing in particular.
Bernis and Peter von zur Muehlen spent a year together in Nepal yet almost might have been in different countries. Bernis seems to have been most attracted to the towns, and in them, to studied, formalist scenes in which the people appear mainly as props. Peter is an economist, and seems to have spent more time in the countryside; he renders this poor and hard-used land, so central to both Buddhism and Hinduism, as a sort of Oriental Appalachia, distantly seen.