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.
Ultimately, “Naturaleza Antrópica” offers no individual critique of the documented scenes. Through the repetitive nature of the compositions the individual photos remain voiceless - rather they each represent a brick that, when placed together, form a bridge between the natural and artificial worlds.
Publications & Features
2019 - Subjectively Objective - Monograph
2019 - Another Place Magazine - Feature
2019 - Cargo Collective - Feature