Technological developments and the rapidly changing climate have altered our relationship to nature. Photography offers a means of observing the world and our effect upon it. But can it also act as a catalyst in adopting new ways of relating to what surrounds us? Following in the footsteps of the iconic landscape photographers of the nineteenth century, a new generation of artists is using contemporary visual technologies to record and to question our relationship to the world. They do so using the same modern technologies that increasingly pervade how we relate to the world: often electronically, and mediated by our digital screens.
The exhibition On Earth – Imaging, Technology and the Natural World brings together works by 27 contemporary artists who use innovative visual strategies to examine the constantly evolving relationship between mankind and nature. Besides photography, they use media such as installations, sculpture, virtual reality and video. With one or two exceptions, these artists no longer wander the land with camera in hand to capture the landscape. Instead, photographers like Thomas Albdorf, Melanie Bonajo and Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács make use of social media, image search machines, Google Earth, virtual reality and other visual media to explore our experience of nature.
The work by Mark Dorf and Noémie Goudal makes clear how technology and the natural landscape are intrinsically interwoven, thereby demonstrating how our understanding of nature is largely shaped by human intervention. Other artists, such as Mishka Henner and Anouk Kruithof, explore the power of images to expose (or to conceal) the destructive effects of human interventions in the landscape, while Lucas Foglia and Adam Jeppesen search for alternative ways of living in harmony with nature.
Combining a wide range of visual techniques with technological, socio-economic, spiritual and political perspectives, the exhibition explores what ‘landscape photography’ can mean today. What all works have in common is that they testify to the profound impact that (visual) technology has on the paradoxical relationship between mankind and nature. The role of photography is no longer just to document and raise awareness; today it operates just as much as an active and often powerful accomplice.
Thomas Albdorf (1982), Jonathas de Andrade (1982), Jeremy Ayer (1986), Fabio Barile (1980), Matthew Brandt (1982), Melanie Bonajo, (1978), Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács (1974 & 1973), Raphaël Dallaporta (1980), Mark Dorf (1988), Lucas Foglia (1983), Noémie Goudal (1984), Mishka Henner (1976), Femke Herregraven (1982), Benoît Jeannet (1991), Adam Jeppesen (1978) Anouk Kruithof (1981), Mårten Lange (1984), Douglas Mandry (1989), Awoiska van der Molen (1972), Drew Nikonowicz (1993), Mehrali Razaghmanesh (1983), Guillaume Simoneau (1978), Troika (1976 & 1977), Maya Watanabe (1983), Guido van der Werve (1977).
On Earth was curated by Foam and produced in collaboration with Les Rencontres d’Arles.
The exhibition is made possible by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, MIAP Foundation, Goethe-Institut Amsterdam, Institut français des Pays-Bas and Kleurgamma Fine-Art Photolab.
On Earth – Imaging, Technology and the Natural World was first displayed at the 50th edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles in the summer of 2019. Following this successful international presentation, the exhibition supposed to be on show at the Foam – leading photography museum in Amsterdam – from 20 March to 10 June 2020. Due to the coronavirus Foam is closed right now.
2014-10-16 054640 PM 38 56 51 61 N 092 18 54 64 W 00730 c Drew Nikonowicz courtesy of the artist
Kenzie inside a Melting Glacier, Juneau Icefield Research Program, Alaska, 2016 c Lucas Foglia courtesy of the artist
Typical Alpine Flora at the Hochschwab Area c Thomas Albdorf courtesy of the artist