The central image is one of my favourite images. A bird had built a nest in an electrical box at the site of an abandoned bottling factory. This factory comprised of a steel shed with a variety of tanks, equipment and conveyer belts scattered about the grounds, is now overtaken by vegetation and wildlife. All the sites shown here illustrate spaces that are in transition; places once habited by man that are now being reclaimed by nature. If these sites are no longer exclusively nature made or manmade then what are they?
The study of cybernetics can be used to achieve a deeper understanding of complex biological, social and ecological systems, and is used to help us understand the world around us. It is also a term used in reference to artificial enhancement in many ways including biological and social structures. As humanity expands, our social, political, architectural and transport networks spread across the globe and our influence over the planet increases. We implant structures on top of and under the ground, into the oceans and into the space around us to enhance our capabilities. Our influence can even be seen on a genetic level as we experiment with plant and animal life. The impact of our chemical pollutants can be seen across the planet. If we can refer to ourselves as cyborgs because of our technological implants, pace makers, artificial limbs, wheelchairs, or ipods then can we not go so far as to say that our planet too is a cybernetic organism?
There is symmetry in circles like these two ant holes, the squashed aluminum can, and the manhole covers. These images make me consider it is apparent that we impact on the landscape and that it impacts on us. Virtually all ecosystems on Earth have been affected by our presence. We have the ability to adapt to our environment and to adapt our environment to us in ways that significantly affect the planet. As our population increases our draw upon the planet’s resources increase.
We are a part of the ecosystem of our planet and rely upon a healthy ecosystem to supply our needs for survival. While a great deal of our impact on the planets resources has been detrimental to the ecosystem our habits can change and are very slowly changing to reduce human impact and preserve our resources.
There is a cosmology of destruction and re-growth that stems from the things people throw away. These objects become part of a microcosm that is growing and/or decaying, and being consumed and consuming. On the larger scale this decomposition is an evolution of space. These sites can neither be considered pristine nature nor cultural landscapes; rather they represent a state of harmonious decline and re-growth.
On one level I am captivated by the beauty of these spaces, on another I am also fascinated by their entropic evolution. Entropy tangles and erodes the contours of the landforms and the built environment; it blurs distinguishing lines between interior and exterior, nature and culture redefining these spaces as other than nature made or human made.
The clamp at the top right I found at an old abandoned bottling factory was inexplicably draped in a tree just as shown here. The top left door knob was still attached to the door as was the car door handle below. The vegetation pretty much over took the doors attached to both handles. While most of these items were obscured by natural re-growth, because they are metal they will take many years decompose.
Even though nature reasserts its presence in spaces impacted by man’s presence, the natural landscape has been irrevocably changed. Each piece of garbage that we leave behind is the seed for change in the evolution of our planet. Not only is the full potential of these plantings only just beginning to be realized, but what does become apparent is that as man made objects and spaces are enveloped in natural re-growth, they combine to make a new space that is both nature made and man made.
I was attracted to these belts because they reminded me of snakes in the grass. For me their twisting forms help conjure the idea of detritus imitating nature. As they decompose the belts seem to mimic the grasses around them helping to blur the lines between objects and surroundings.
I found these items along a gravel roadside of interest. On a smaller scale they illustrate the slow process of decomposition, paper will break down quite quickly, while the baler twine, the piece of plastic and the aluminum can will likely linger much longer. Each will break down into smaller parts to become part of the soil composition. This leads me to consider how much detritus could be combined with natural soil and still be viable for growing plants.
Alumninum can be recycled almost indefinitely, and paper is naturally biodegradable, while the baler twine is generally made from a polypropylene product designed to degrade. Plastic such as the clear sheet particle can last for many years lingering as tiny tatters like the one on the top right. The grasses wrapped around this piece of plastic are grasping it, nesting plastic fibres with its vigorous growth. Plastic and plant are enmeshed in a process of harmonious growth and decay that is illustrative of the insidious nature of plastic as well as a testament to the resilience of nature itself.
I might be exagerating, but I sometimes have hundreds of ideas a day. I have ADHD which might have something to do with it.
Only a few of those compel me to follow up on them.
They often wind up as fragments in notebooks, bits of paper, snapshots, plain text documents, emails to myself.
I collect them. I go back to them. A small number of them get absorbed into bigger ideas. An even smaller number
I keep those. And love that they are imperfect and found a home (click on the picture to see them properly).