Perhaps surprising, as a documentarian I am fascinated by empty landscapes. I continuously explore the visual consequences of human influence in them as well as the lack of such. I examine why something has become exactly what it has become or why something has not become what it could have become. I believe we shape our surroundings as our surroundings have shaped us, our surroundings shape us as we have shaped our surroundings.
In a similar way I have been intrigued by the visuals of flags. Ordinary as they are, flags serve as a symbol of being an independent entity and are used by a diverse range of such bodies: states and nations, international organisations, brands and corporations, scouting groups, ports, peoples movements, etc.. Each flag establishes recognisability and distinction. A flag communicates the identity of its carrier by using a visual image.
I have often wondered where the inspiration for a specific flag has come from. Sometimes they are clear examples of how surroundings have shaped their inhabitants. With these thoughts in mind I have collected images of landscapes that could inspire new flags. These images were mostly taken in vast and scarcely populated areas, places that are not yet claimed by human influence, such as Siberia, Lapland, the Kazakh steppe, the Barents Sea. When these places would ever become newly claimed independent entities, the presented landscapes could serve as inspiration to create suitable flags.
© Pieter-Jan Van Damme
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