(click on an image to view an enlarged version)
Two visitors interact with Encircling Encircling exhibition
Detail of Encircling Detail of Encircling
Detail of Encircling Sepia Panoramic image
West side panoramic image Construct and Deconstruct
5h45 Black and White Night 3 Tier
Upturned walls Blend
Looking in - Looking out Undergrowth
Saltpan Rocks
Trees Black and White Bush
Exhibition Opening
Encircling the Land: Photographic Visualisations of the Experience of a Landscape
by Stanley Sher

Encircling the Land: Photographic Visualisations of the Experience of a Landscape

The exhibitions emerges out of my process of visual and hermeneutic enquiry centred on the Tswaing meteorite impact crater, north of Pretoria. It is generally accepted that the meteorite which caused the crater, struck the earth around 220 000 years ago. Although that is relatively recent in geological terms, the impact on the local landscape forcefully contains the memory of processes from deep time.

In my attempt to read and interpret the landscape I move through a process of repeated engagements with it. A circular ritual of walking, waiting and documenting has been my starting point, with a burgeoning archive of 360° photographic visualisations of the experience. Despite this ritual and a considerable amount of documentation, my attempts to apprehend the landscape have been largely resisted and I have come to accept that openness rather than closure can be a generative part of such a process. Gadamer’s ‘hermeneutic circle’, a reflexive theory of building insight through a circular and dialogical process of reading texts in the light of other texts, has helped me to celebrate an approach in which meaning accrues, for the process, the documentation and the landscape itself.

My conceptual engagement with the circular landscape always takes me back to the same point. Visually that is the residual borehole near the middle of the crater, drilled in 1988 by paleo-climatologist T.C. Partridge. It was from this drill core that conclusive evidence was found, just over two decades ago, to establish that the site was meteoritic rather than volcanic. It is from this point that many of my attempts at panoptic vision have taken place, at various times of day and night during my excursions to the crater over a period of six months.

My 360° photographic visualisations of the landscape are fraught with light contradictions, making it difficult to adequately document. The inaccessibility becomes a metaphor on the one hand for the inscrutability of this awesome site. Photographically, the complexity of the processes used, bring with them an array of digital artefacts which further colour the layered nature of the project and its overall process.


The circle is an object of nature, an idealization of pure mathematics, and a symbol or framework we use to understand and describe our world. The circle exists independently of human thought, as ripples in a pond, or the appearance of the sun and moon, or the shape of the iris of an eye. In mathematics, we choose to define a circle as the places at a constant distance from a center...
Sarhangi and Martin, 2000

….any landscape is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads

D.W.Meinig, 1979 p.1

A walk expresses space and freedom
and the knowledge of it can live
in the imagination of anyone, and that
is another space too.

A walk is just one more layer, a mark, laid
upon the thousands of other layers of human
and geographic history on the surface of the land…..

….A walk traces the surface of the land,
it follows an idea, it follows the day
and the night.

Richard Long, Five Six Pick Up Sticks, Seven Eight Lay Them Straight

  • View from the centre, Tswaing impact crater, 14 October 2008, 18h18 – 18h27. Single row 360° panorama.
  • View of Tswaing from the West, outside the crater 7 August 2008, 16h37 – 16h50. Single row 360° panorama. 
  • Construct/Deconstruct. 23 September 2008 17h30 -17h42.
  • View from the centre, Tswaing Impact crater two days after the equinox, 23 September 2008, 05h45 - -05h53. Single row 360° panorama.
  • View into the Tswaing crater from the North West Crater wall,  7 August 2008,18h52 – 19h30. Triple layer panorama.
  • Upturned crater walls, sun rising, sun setting and moon rising. 16 October 2008, 05h49 16 October 2008, 05h43 14 October 2008, 18h00 360° panoramas
  • View from the centre, Tswaing impact crater 16 October 2008, 05h40 – 05h46. Dual layer 360° blended panorama.
  • Looking in, looking out. A walk around the entire crater pan, looking inwards then looking outwards.  16 October 2008, 9h05 – 11h06.
  •  Undergrowth, 5 August 2008, 17h52 – 17h59
  • View into the Tswaing crater from the North West Crater wall. 7 August 2008. FujiPro 400 film.
  • Tswaing impact crater, 5 August 2008



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