07 December 2015
Let me know which you prefer and why. Click onto each image to enlarge.
“The living world can be seen as a network of interlocking fields of replicator power.” ~~ Richard Dawkins in Unweaving the Rainbow (1998).
My world view has been embedded with a distinct philosophy about how nature and human nature are inextricably linked. I’ve been this way all my adult life: many decades of sunrises and sunsets.
“We” are possessed by the desire to put them–nature and human nature–in their own category. When, in fact, they are one. But humans are the perpetrators of communication through language: spoken and written forms. My orientation is a visual one, symbolism through images and words, again, sort of one and the same.
In the above quote Dawkins is referring to art and science, which is very much the confluence of photography and nature. It’s a duo that motivates me to see my immediate world and beyond as the juxtaposition of living creatures as a source of inspiration and wonder.
While human ingenuity and innovation have brought us to a miraculous juncture in our history, we certainly are perfectly imperfect on this universal journey. So I want to show this interface between our world that spins around nature and human nature.
In my small corner of the planet I am on the search for images that transpose what we see into a story about this crucial bond–a bond on a delicate precipice. I am not a doomsday kind of person. I have enduring hope that the trajectory of our planet’s ills will be slowed, even reduced considerably. It must be. It has to be.
While we are living in complex times with many uncertainties, the one that we can actually work to improve is environmental consequences–seen and unforeseen–of human’s continuous interplay with nature. Often this interaction is at the detriment to the entire planet.
Okay, so these are ethical, moral, political, and scientific issues that are legacies of the human condition. Can we turn the tides and move toward a healthier Earth? Only involvement and time will tell.
I’m choosing to soothe my soul through my lens and pens. I invite you to join me. Or comment on my journey. I’m not sure where it will lead, but this post is an example of my path forward and melds with some previous ones.
Part of my vision is to take street life and above-ground archaeology and show how nature is very necessary in the urban environment: how pockets of green can help sustain our relationship with this spinning planet that gives us life. And in this effort show progress and hope.
In the Lens section is an example of the interconnection of nature and human nature. New York City has turned itself into a center of green streets, renewal of the land, newly-planted trees, engaging waterfronts, and parks aplenty. The New York Restoration Program is a prime example of the work being done–work that has created among other successes 52 community gardens. By 2014 NYC had developed 109 acres of new parkland.
When I took these images of portions of Brian Tolle’s 2002 “Irish Hunger Memorial Project” in Battery Park, (through a City Parks Conservancy Art Program), I was drawn into its narrative as we walked from the dark into the light–light that showed a vista of people, trees, parkland, and the Hudson River. This scene evoked the way cities can provide public spaces and moments of nature in our consumer-driven and technological society.
This site-specific work of art reminds me of the earthworks of 1960s and 1970s , which were made by such luminaries as Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria and Robert Smithson. Brian Tolle created the monument (96′ x 170′) to memorialize Ireland’s Great Famine as well as make a statement about today’s world hunger. The text that runs along the walls blends the history of the famine with modern reports on hunger throughout the world. As nature and human nature evolve over time, this work will too. Text will change (notice the layers of water that have added a patina over the letters) and the earth and stone that support the monument will be modified through outside paths of grass.
As I thought more about this artwork and its location by the waterfront in Lower Manhattan, the idea of its significance grew and grew. It is a quintessential example of how adaptation and confluence of ideas, human history and Mother Nature can be part of urban life.
The “living breathing” memorial with its concise yet poignant language and visual interpretation of history transmits an emotional response about the intersection of nature and human nature. On one very small piece of our planet an artist has given us a natural wonder that provokes thought about how today’s human toil from climate change effects Mother earth.
In Manhattan you can find such inspiration in a tiny park or on a main street. The greening of this urban center is impressive. And the other four boroughs are doing their job too.
Humans are still pioneers on this planet, and we must come together for the greater good to sustain our journey. And in the doing–even a small contribution–we begin to understand how deeply and thoroughly we rely on nature to coexist and exist: how we are inextricably bound.
Tip of the Week:
American photographer Mitch Epstein’s New York Arbor (2013) devotes this volume to the staggering number of trees that line parks and street of the most extraordinary of urban centers. It’s an apt example of the greening of cities and how important this effort is to the health of our entire planet. Epstein gives each tree special attention, never sublimating its beauty and importance to its surroundings. Spectacular trees represent each of the five boroughs. He wrote, “These immigrant trees, along native counterparts, still thrive in New York City. The trees remind me of the human immigrants who continually arrive in New York, who creatively adapt to a brutal yet tolerant city, and rarely abandon their original character.” To read more about this book, click here.
View other entries for this week’s challenge:
As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog. My photographs for the mobile photography challenge are taken with an iPhone 6.
If you’d like to join this Mobile Photography Challenge, please click here for details and history of the challenge. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming challenges:
1st Monday: Nature.
2nd Monday: Macro.
3rd Monday: Black and White.
4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Panorama, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).
5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.