Cameron D.'s Discussions

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art on the environment

Another area of interest on the theoretical side of things is ecocriticism (or green theory.) So far (to my knowledge) it’s an area of theory that has been applied to literature, but it would be interesting to see it in art.

Basically it’s about the connection between culture (and self) and the environment. It’s relatively new theory. There are two variants, US and UK. The US tends to be be celebratory and reverent of nature, while the UK is more about warning of the impact of industry.

Interestingly, it’s a rather anti-theory theory. It stresses that the environment is more than a social/linguistic construct, that it is a real entity that affects us and vice versa. A famous quote related to this idea is: “It isn’t language which has a hole in it’s ozone layer.” (Kate Soper)

This is a very scant description … it’s an area I’m keen to learn more about and apply to art.

Comment made 14 years ago on Wednesday 06 February 2008

art on the environment

Excellent topic, something I’ve been pondering myself over the last few years.

I think much of my work over the last 2 years has had an environmental consciousness. I’ve been doing works that feature dinosaurs and hoodoos, both which are found near to where I live (Alberta, Canada.) The dinosaur works are definitely meditations on extinction. Although they did not alter the environment the same way humans do the outcome may be the same and if a successful, dominant species like dinosaurs can eventually wane away to extinction then the same fate could await humanity – the only difference is that perhaps we can prevent our own extinction.

Hoodoos are strange, mushroom-shaped rock formations found in the areas that dinosaurs are found. They are formed over millions of years of wind and water erosion. For my work they’re a symbol of environmental degradation; they are more rapidly eroding due to acid rain (and the fact that tourists climb on them.)

One of the mediums I employ is sand. That earth element speaks to the subject matter and where I live. The oil & gas industry is huge where I live – as well as the environmental impact it will (and is) having. Far north from where I live are the oilsands, one of the biggest industrial projects in the world and one that is having huge effects on the environment: it’s literally being torn apart. I would like to see it for myself (in pictures it looks like Mordor) and maybe it will be an area I go next in my art.

I’ve also thought of exploring the environmental (and health) impact of plastic. It’s starting to get more attention, particularly in the oceans which are becoming seas of plastic. I don’t really have any ideas of how to represent this in art yet.

As far as other artists doing work in the environmental impact of human industry/consumption I’d recommend checking out the photography of Edward Burtynsky.

Comment made 14 years ago on Wednesday 06 February 2008