The story of our universe begins with a singularity. Due to some inconceivable force, space expanded, and matter formed. The stars, the earth, oceans, animals and even our bodies, are all made from this matter that has existed since the beginning of time. The dictionary has a term for this collective: NATURE.
We are, quite literally, stardust.
HUMAN.NATURE | A Solo Art Exhibition
Human.Nature considers humanity and our relationship with nature: both the external environment as well as our inner biology. It is about a return to nature. The city-dweller reconnecting with the earth. Soft moss under bare feet. Cold air against warm body. The body that will eventually return to the soil to give life anew.
This art exhibition explores the reciprocal nature of Nature through cinematic tableaux, photo-montages, cyanotypes and a video installation.
Human.Nature considers humanity and our relationship with nature, both the external environment as well as our inner biology. It is a return to nature. The city-dweller reconnecting with the earth. Soft moss under bare feet. Cold air against warm body. The body that will eventually return to the soil to give life anew.
This photo-essay is very personal to me. It is my reaction to the fear of dying. My search for solace. As such, I thought it pertinent to act as the protagonist in my own tale. Using self-portraiture as a tool for artistic expression, it soon came to light that this was an opportunity to add a new skill to my repertoire: Performance Art. Like stills from a film, frozen frames in time confront the viewer with concepts exploring creation, evolution and metamorphosis.
Working in a foreign environment, I felt that it was important to draw inspiration from both the landscape and culture. A such, several of the cinematic images from Human.Nature are imbued with narratives from Finnish mythologies surrounding concepts of the soul and the transmigration thereof.
This collection includes a series of large-format photomontages crafted digitally from deconstructed imagery to create suspended still lifes. Biological forms are woven together to illustrate the reciprocal interaction found throughout nature.
The work explores the cosmos as a cyclical and closed system that demands balance. It reflects the principle of the Tao Taijitu, illustrating the interconnectedness of contradictory, yet complimentary, dualistic forces that together create a monistic whole.
This mercurial and ephemeral nature of Nature is explored through concepts around creation, evolution, metamorphosis and the transmigration of the soul. Einstein’s first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. The images presented celebrate this infinite cycle of life and alleviate the fear of death. For, in time, this energy that was once you will transmute to form new life.
To me, this continuation of the life-force is the transmigration of the soul.
Fuelled by an interest in anatomy, zoology, entomology and botany, these artworks explore the tentative relationship between humanity and its environment. More than celebrate nature, they highlight the interdependence of biotic life forms and their micro-habitats. And emphasize the importance of the conservation of this ecosystem that we call home: earth.
CYANOTYPE | Sol-Shadows
An integral part of my creative process relies on the digital capture of natural elements, which are deconstructed in post-production, to be reconstructed into new realities. However, I also wanted to celebrate the innate beauty of the botanicals themselves. My first expression of this was to create direct copies using a digital scanner with accompanying annotations as one would see in traditional herbarium collections.
Upon discovering the work of Anna Atkins, I fell in love with the idea of returning to my photographic roots and using the cyanotype technique. I was curious to see how I could implement this traditional process to capture an alternative view of my own samples.
Rather than capture all the details verbatim like the scanner, the cyanotype offers a more eerie representation of the subject matter. The resulting images are reminiscent of the nuclear shadows seen in Hiroshima, in which only the outline of the object remained. This “impression” of reality resonates with the Human.Nature theme of the transient nature of matter. In time the botanical samples themselves will fade and decay. And only the Sol-Shadows, the sun-imprinted memories, will remain as evidence that they ever existed.
What started out as “blueprints” quickly evolved into an artistic expression of this theme. By applying the chemicals onto the paper in splashes and runs, the solid shapes of the hexagons start bleeding and fading. Much like the subject matter itself.
VIDEO INSTALLATION | A collaboration between Natalie Field and Matthew Harvey
This short film captures the emotion and chaos of inner struggle, and the inevitable transformation that follows in its wake.
Exploring self-portraiture for the cinematic tableaux contributed to my process, when I stumbled upon an alternative direction for my long exposure work: stop-motion movies.
This first came to light during the creation of the still image, “Dancer in the Woods”. While scrolling through the frames on the back of the camera quickly, I noticed that it created a stop-motion effect. It reminded me of vintage animated art frames. I consequently adjusted my performance to move into the frame from one side and out the other. And then stitched the series together to create a short video piece. The latter depicts a figure strobing across the frame, looped for a “Groundhog Day” effect.
This animation progressed to form part of a larger piece; combining Stills, Cinemagraphs, Stop-Motion and Film to create a cinematic experience. For this, I collaborated with my partner, Matthew Harvey. Together we created a visual and audio artscape narrating the essence of Human.Nature and the metamorphosis of a soul. The installation at the gallery simulates the forest environment to draw the viewer in.
Exhibition Catalogue | Digital
Click Here to browse through the online catalogue
Click Here to learn more about the artist’s concepts and process
Human.Nature is showing at Berman Contemporary until 19 April 2018.
Please join us for a walk-about with the artist on 15 April at 11.30am!
To find out more about this art exhibition please Contact Us.