Part 2: Exploring Disconnection to Nature through The Arts
As Audience / Responding

Jim Naughten – Eremozoic Series – The Gibbons

Jim Naughten is an English Artist that works with Photography, Stereoscopy and painting, his work explores historical and natural history. His Eremzoic series uses a technique he call ‘Digital Painting’ combing photography and painting to create hyper realistic, surreal images of wildlife in natural but altered landscapes. This series is named in reference to “Biologist E.O. Wilson has suggested that we are now entering the Earth’s Eremozoic period, which he characterises as an age of loneliness following mass extinctions caused by human activity. In contrast with the more commonly used term Anthropocene (or ‘age of man’), Wilson’s classification addresses the history we are living through from a broader ecological perspective, to recognise humanity’s essential and inextricable connectedness with other forms of life on the planet.” (Fleming-Brown)

In the piece The Gibbons, pictured, the landscape is hyper real, a family of Gibbons swing through a glowing technicolour rainbow forest. It has an unnerving effect in that the familiar is rendered as fantasy, defamiliarized. The photos are taken from dioramas in Natural History museums rather than the wild, this creates another level of something isn’t quite right here.

I have chosen this work because it creates an emotional response, that commands further attention. I believe the idea of Nature as Fantasy is a powerful because really, parts of it already are, we have already lost to many animals to extinction, and without deep changes to the way we live we will lose more. In particular I choose The Gibbons as I feel a personal connection to them from frequent visits to a Gibbon enclosure at Melbourne Zoo, that had the same mix of white and black Gibbons as the Artwork. There is a poignant sadness to this work that made me consider my place in the world and made my heart ache to visit forested mountains again. Yet there is also joy in the surreal quality of colours that don’t exist in nature like this but make so many happy, I have in the past wished the landscape more colourful.

Benjamin Van Wong - Every day, 142,000 computers are thrown away in the US alone

Benjamin Von Wong is a Canadian Artist “focused on amplifying positive Impact” He claims his mission is to help make positive impact unforgettable. Von Wong work is presented as photographs of intricate installations that utilise waste a medium. Whilst there are a large number of Artists that are utilising waste as a medium to both comment of climate change and reduce their footprint Von Wong is notable in that his creations transcend their medium. 

Every day, 142,000 computers are thrown away in the US alone, yes, that really is what this piece is called, there is something about the honesty of calling something out for what it is, uses laptops in a style that is reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy’s land art, careful arrangement transforms a pile of laptops destined to be recycled in a vortex like spiral radiating out from a central, futuristic figure with ethereal white hair. This work is one of three that was commissioned by computer giant Dell to talk about their recycling program. As you can see in the following video Von Wong is an energetic young artist, keen to get messages put into the world to start a conversation.

I chose this work for its beauty, for the simplicity of taking a pile of waste and being brave enough to turn it into beauty rather than just show it as a pile of waste like much of the art I found around sustainability does. It is open and honest contemporary art that is accessible and about as far from a stuff art gallery as you can get. In terms of talking of disconnection with nature it does this through the cyborg-like imagery of the figure rising from the laptops, as if it is the laptops that feed it, much like many young people think of their devices as life-giving and essential. I also feel that the issue of eWaste is one that can really get a lot of students on board because we all know how much young people love their devices!