re-thinking your landscape

I had a really interesting conversation with a professor from Pratt‘s Visual Criticism studies program. We were discussing my participation in this semester’s colloquium, which would focus on Landscape*.

He felt I would be a good participant because my work so often was focused on making the invisible visible in landscapes (I am paraphrasing greatly). It really got me to thinking about how I define my work. He struck a very true chord with me.

Things look brighter in Vermont, originally uploaded by paul+photos=moody.

I have always felt uncomfortable with pigeon holing myself into the world of eco or environmental artist. Even though much of my work does explore these themes, it primarily is encouraging audiences to re-think their existing environment or landscape. This is true of historical work and definitely true of current and proposed projects. A number of which don’t fit neatly in the environmental pigeon hole. Some of these include:

  • The “48 Hours of Sao Paolo” project, which seeks to black out the advertising in Times Square for 48 hours in an effort to see what else is there.
  • A project I am hosting with the MoMA teen nights, which will introduce the students to visionary architecture and art projects (including Dickson Despommier’s Vertical Farms, The Lilypad Cities, Steve Lambert‘s “Wish you Were Here, Postcards from Our Awesome Future,” and the Ansan City proposals), and ask the students to re-envision their “Dream NYC.” This is part of the digital project I would like to do in which I recreate the entire island of Manhattan (or a large portion thereof) as MyNyc, my own dream version of NYC – complete with monorails!
  • Paths of Desire, which will trace movements of project participants as they explore historic Lower Manhattan within the confines of contemporary Lower Manhattan. (Proposal images coming soon).
  • The project I am doing with the colloquium students. I am asking them to map a non-obvious route and document it in someway (graphics, photos, stories). This idea is on both Paths of Desire and HighWaterLine (which traced a topographic line). I am also planning to do my own set of invisible maps and post them online to share with the students.

Two Bikes, originally uploaded by holly_northrop.

So… I just think he really has a point about my work. I certainly hope that the projects will continue to inspire critical and creative thinking around environmental & ecological issues, while at the same time connecting people to their landscapes.

I guess a new statement is in the works… Any thoughts?

*I like the word landscape because it includes not only visible features but also the weather, climate and human features & the flora and fauna.

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