Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on a sculptural installation for an upcoming collaborative exhibition with Jessye Wdowin-McGregor titled ‘nature, post-nature’, on show at Rubicon Ari from 21 March. The exhibition concept focuses on how natural/native geological and ecological systems in urban Melbourne and greater Victorian regions are responding to disruptions caused by human activity (resulting in the rise of ‘post-natural’ landscapes). It has been a challenging task to translate these concepts into an artistic outcome.
The challenge hasn’t been in the physical production of a work, but rather how to make something that would allow people to intuitively locate themselves within the psychologically distant concept of the ‘post-natural’ (as an outcome of climate change).
After conducting a large amount of research on ecological philosophy (mainly Guattari and Næss), cognitive dissonance theory, the psychology of how people understand and process information about climate change and eco-logic (particularly Dark Ecology by Timothy Morton), I began to realise that the normalisation of post-natural landscapes meant that they are largely invisible. This normalisation means that most people aren’t able to, on a meaningful personal/individual scale, grasp the idea that the landscapes they commonly experience are outcomes of major disruptions to natural/native geological and ecological systems. Grasping the idea, impact and scale of the disruptions that have historically and continue to occur is an important step in creating ecological empathy; a willingness to act in a way that protects the environment that can translate into positive climate action.
Below is a concept image of the sculptural resolution that I came up with. I’ll discuss the work in next week’s post ‘Approaching the post-natural: Part 2’.