There was a print craze in the late 19th century that mirrored the populist enthusiasm for theatrical,
painted panoramas that toured across Europe and the United States. Called Endless Landscapes or
myrioramas, these were sets of lithographed cards that could be placed end to end to create a
landscape, and when reshuffled, would make new landscapes, some said (or advertised) up to
20,922,789,999,000 combinations. Myriorama originally meant sets of illustrated cards which
people could arrange and re-arrange, forming different pictures. Later the name was also applied
to traveling shows that used a sequence of impressive, visual effects to entertain and inform an
audience. Each card typically held a landscape that would join at the edges of the cards, so that,
like the vertically-oriented Exquisite Corpse drawings of the Surrealists, they would match up to
form a single and unbroken form. Marketed as art, educational tools, and games for children and
adults, these cards flourished for several decades before photography began to flood the market.
The Endless Landscape print project by William Allen, Birgit Jensen, Jochen Saueracker, and
Barbara Westermann, produced, printed, and distributed by Clay Street Press Graphics of
Cincinnati, Ohio, emulates this children’s game, providing a template for a serious collaboration
about the earth and its perimeters (where humor and fancy must have their place as well).
Bill’s text project for the print combines geographical taxonomy with names of natural processes,
creating a textual map for the concept of endless landscapes.
Birgit’s masterful color and her integration of her painting techniques into the card provides a
vibrant solidity to the whole.
Jochen’s expert use of collage mirrors the Surrealists version of this game, as well as provides the
compositional framework, humor, and added ‘commentary’ on the idea of landscape, where
images of Byrd Land penguins and bulls and still lives melded into the varied landscapes of this
Barbara’s minimal drawing style provides a fine, drawn line to situate the collaboration upon a
horizontal plane, and her vases, staircases and other architectural elements inject the human and
the built upon the natural world, suggesting both Westermann’s visions of architectonic nature
and the template for the game, which surfaces from time to time in individual cards.
The set of 24 lithographic cards (edition of 50?), 5x10” is intended to be exhibited on a shelf
where the cards are interchangeable, shuffle-able, and even shown in multiple packs (thus
extending their endlessness), so that with six packs of cards you could stretch an entire bank
lobby’s wall… with a few more print sets even reach the moon.