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“No important change in ethics was ever accomplished without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis, loyalties, affections, and convictions.” ~ Aldo Leopold
Every year, as we transition from summer to autumn and the leaves turn colors and begin to fall, the capacity of vegetation to uptake CO2 weakens; as vegetation declines atmospheric CO2 increases. For over 600,000 years, CO2 stayed between 180 and 300 parts per million (ppm). This September, at its lowest point, it failed to drop below 400 ppm. For over 50 years, scientists have been clear: curbing carbon emissions is critical to maintaining the planet’s life-support system, and yet, the rate at which we emit CO2 into the atmosphere has only accelerated. Strong climate science hasn’t made us care more deeply about the places we inhabit. We have collected facts but we haven’t made the issue personal and we haven’t interrogated the underlying problem; the fact that our human/environment tensions are more a result of what we value than what we know. We suffer more from our inability to appreciate and engage genuinely with our everyday environments. In response, I have developed a practice that strives to redefine my relationship to land and invites others to do the same.
My work investigates the sociological, ecological, and technological subtleties of human/environment relationships and how the treatment of the land is as much a result of a person’s aesthetic, and ethical dispositions, as it is their ecological understanding. Specifically, I examine how aesthetic and semiotic framings around the sublime, pristine, and man-altered landscape encode particular assumptions and ideologies about our relationships to the environment. I seek to disrupt these representations and create a heightened sense of awareness about the systems we create, maintain, and adopt.
The work at times implies a latent violence, other times, bewildering beauty emerges; forcing the viewer to face the duality of “progress.” By engaging in poetic and often metaphorical language, I explore the dynamics of the human-environment nexus, our assumptions around what landscapes represents for us, and our own agency in its destruction or transformation.
Susan Sontag noted that, “photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at.” Through sequencing still and moving images, I “alter and enlarge” while also constructing narratives that challenge how we understand our relationship to everyday landscapes. Through site-specific sculptures – often made from discarded materials – I re-imagine space and engage in a participative act of transforming the landscape. The mediums and materials I use are based on their conceptual relevance to the project, rather than personal preference. Ultimately, my work emphasizes the need for interaction in everyday ecologies as a method for illuminating what is obvious but often overlooked: we are not separate from our environment.