2017 - Ongoing
Inspired by early 19th century naturalist Alexander Humboldt, I am piecing together a fictional world of landscape artifacts (rocks, flora, etc) and images of ‘Humboldt’ like characters who measure earth’s phenomena, looking for evidence of the Afterlife.
The title ‘Afterlife’ refers to themes of life and death rooted in my anxiety of threatened ecosystems. Humboldt discovered the idea of an ecosystem, and he radically suggested humans could upset the delicate balance of nature. The world today is very different from the one he documented as virtually every corner of the earth has been seen or altered by human use. It is suggested we are within a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, defined by radioactive particles scattered across the earth by nuclear tests, burning of fossil fuels, plastic pollution, etc. As the earth becomes increasingly void of unspoiled natural environments, our idea of nature is becoming lost.
Afterlife is an attempt to re-discover our affected landscape as Humboldt must have felt as he saw strange new species and places. It is also a way of visualizing landscapes of the future by thinking about how someone from the past would look at the landscape now. My fiction melds Humboldt’s vision with my own, and the current world with a future one. Humboldt came to know nature mainly through acts of observation, whereas my vision is built on interventions with a camera and artificial lighting.
Color is a formal organizing principle, but more importantly it serves to give weight to themes of life and death. Exaggerating color helps suggest Landscapes in a new world and time, blanketed in a fresh nuclear glow.
Humboldt suggested that nature is like a tapestry that could be undone with the pull of a thread. The thread has been pulled. Afterlife is a series that considers how to represent these realities as nature becomes increasingly more synthetic than pristine.