Naturaleza Antrópica

“Naturaleza Antrópica” is a project that explores the colloquial nature of how we categorise and define the land and space around us. As humans we have a tendency to view the world in a binary manner - the natural world, and the artificial, or ‘human’ world. The world of vegetation, rivers, mountains and vistas, in contrast to the world of concrete, construction, infrastructure and electronic lighting. I take issue with the simplicity of the viewpoint however because to me, there is nothing natural about seeing a teak tree in the americas - regardless of however wild and naturally occurring it may seem (particularly when it’s inhabited by a family of howler monkeys). Through this project I have attempted to document the space around us with different language, or a different “duality” so to speak - as I believe that the simple categorisation of “natural/artificial” is a dishonest one. “Naturaleza Antrópica” documents spaces that are neither entirely natural nor entirely artificial via the medium of landscape photography. The medium chosen is particularly relevant to the project as the blanket term of “Landscape Photography” is typically used to define the documentation of all non-urban spaces, often ignoring the intricacies of the space itself and perpetuating the myth of a natural/artificial duality.

The American geographer Carl O. Sauer in his 1925 work The Morphology of Landscape coined the idea of there being, through the lens of mankind, a ‘natural’ and a ‘cultural’ landscape. Defining the former as “The area prior to the introduction of man's activity” that is to say the materials upon which the landscape is formed - materials that can be shaped but cannot be added to by mankind. Cultural landscapes being how man expresses himself, and leaves his record upon the canvas of the natural landscape - emphasising:

“The works of man express themselves in the cultural landscape. There may be a succession of these landscapes with a succession of cultures. They are derived in each case from the natural landscape, man expressing his place in nature as a distinct agent of modification. Of special significance is the climax of culture which we call civilization. The cultural landscape then is subject to change either by the development of a culture or by a replacement of cultures.”

Cultural landscapes are, by their nature, living examples of change. As man makes use of the natural forms, alters them, destroys them, or abandons them; the nature of the cultural landscape changes and progresses in a linear manner in relation to its existence within time. “Naturaleza Antrópica” in its focus on this middle area between the idea of artificiality and naturality in the space around us, focuses entirely on specimens of cultural landscape; with an emphasis on contemporary observable change as a microcosm for the greater idea.

The work was facilitated greatly by the choice of a developing nation (Costa Rica) for the project - a country that, although known for its virginal beauty in the form of its many areas of natural landscape is undergoing massive changes and offers many extreme examples of the sort of middle ground desired. Records from the past & derelict workings of man upon the natural canvas, often victims of the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 that have been abandoned and are being reconquered by vegetation and the perceived ‘natural’ world - and observable contemporary advances of culture and man fuelled by the economic boom of the financial rebound.

Publications & Features

2020    - - Prints & (Interview)
2019    -    Subjectively Objective - Monograph  
2019    -    Another Place MagazineFeature
2019    -    Cargo Collective - Feature

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