Nature and the natural are inevitable terms when referring to landscape though we are perhaps unaware of how loaded these concepts are. It is my intention to continue the engagement started in the projects Zone of Transit, 2011 and Unsounded Surplus, 2012 (described in my statement). To look at the desert landscape as a series of interactions, where the relationship between objects is resplendent with occurrence and chance encounters, explored through the use of lens based media. I want to examine the incidental details by which the landscape is constructed and how human intervention (whether that be in the form of growth, mark, detritus or landscaping) is just a one element of where relations in the world occur. Above all, and central to my approach is to reference and explore the concept that there is no such thing as nature.
It is not my conceit that all landscapes are fabricated by the human nor that human intervention (in the context of global warming) is so affecting the world’s climate system that one cannot talk of the natural (though human impact on the environment is a serious concern) but rather that the notion of naturalness is limiting our reading of the landscape and the complexities of existence by delineating space into concrete parcels of association. I intend to look at the relation between things as a way to describe the world with specific reference to the philosophical concern of Speculative Realism, OOO(Object Oriented Ontology) and notions of Ecology without Nature. As a starting point for this investigation I take philosopher Graham Harman’s metaphor for the perception of the garden1 .
In Harman’s metaphor the garden is an enclosed space, framed, contained and bordered where there is an ever present gardener, usually a human presence, who shapes and tends to its existence. However, Harman suggests that we need to establish a wider form of interpretation that recognises the multiple levels of occurrence that happen outside of the human. One that recognises the complexity of relations, that multiple occurrences happen on different planes of existence and is more foundational in approach. Once we delineate nature we build a strange absolute fence around what we consider natural, that designates everything outside of this ‘nature’ as unnatural, synthetic. There is a sense of morality inherent in this projection which creates an artificial dichotomy between the natural and that which is other. A desert state that is absolute and infallible set against a projected landscape of moral and political ideology. This perceptive border implies that the edenic world is infested with repellent man made forms rather than acknowledging the complexity inherent in the multitude of (symbiotic) relations.
“The garden as metaphor then becomes unbridled and potently able to provide a new way of considering our reality. Casting aside the hubris of a world governed by man? intention alone, we slowly begin to see our place within a multiplicity of gardens and gardeners.1
It is my intention to explore the landscape with the notion that rock and plastic, mountain and sculpture are on an equal footing metaphysically. To approach the landscape in these terms where one conceives, .of the garden as an assemblage of objects that form a strange unity, able to interact and tend to the endless variety of other gardens or objects.2 The work that I will produce will be an examination of how things relate to each other. The starting point for my analysis will be speculation rather than the absolute. The formulation of a visual method for depicting or exploring the idea of systems independent of human relation: constantly unfolding and loosely devised.
It is interesting that the desert landscape , is often utilised for modelling the world; a space of training (in a military sense), as a stage set and construct of utopian form as well as a space in which the relationship between form and landscape are explored in the context of art. The landscape could be seen as the perpetuation of a perception of America as a rugged and untamed wilderness, to match an ideal of independence and control. The notion of the natural and naturalness is interesting in this context as these terms are pervasive in the reading of the desert landscape. I intend that in the work I produce will perhaps be an examination of space in which the ongoing interactions between different ‘gardens’ occur rather than viewing the landscape of the desert as the collapse of a once romantic vision. I want to look at the landscape as a series of relations. The interaction of objects. Examining the way these forms translate as represented in the context of the photograph. To explore the photograph as a way of looking at the sensual object and a metaphor for the semiotic interpretation of things that pervades interpretation of this form of representation.
The works created will be an examination of landscape beyond that of a semiological construct and referring these ideas to the representation of the photograph as an object. A view that is inherently subjective as the pictured is focused, the angle from which we view the object depicted shows a specific render of the form. The photograph is able to depict the surface of relations between things at a specific moment, the view between the photographer and the object, the depiction of the object in relationship to each other, and through implication the relationship between the viewer, object and photographer. This is a very human set of relations. From the garden of the lens and in the context of the desert I hope to be able to depict the relation between things in the enactment and depiction of visual analysis exploring the notion that nature does not exist.
1 See Graham Harman’s blog post ‘and another objects in the arts moment’ 05/12/11 http://doctorzamalek2.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/and-another-objects-in-the-arts-moment/ accessed 20/01/12