Nature, as both subject and object, has repeatedly been rejected and reclaimed by artists over the last half century. With the dislocation of disciplinary boundaries in visual culture, art that is engaged with nature has also forged connections with a new range of scientific, historical and philosophical ideas. Developing technologies make our interventions into natural systems both increasingly refined and profound. And advances in biological and telecommunication technology continually modify the way we ‘present’ ourselves. So too are artistic representations of nature (human and otherwise) being transformed.
This anthology addresses these issues by considering how the rise of transdisciplinary practices in the postwar era allowed for new kinds of artistic engagement with nature. These include the post-minimalist inscriptions associated with Land art; environmentally engaged practices designed to propose novel forms of stewardship; and more recent projects concerned with relationships between the most subtle and minute components of life and the large-scale appearance of the world. These problematize and unsettle the most basic operations of ‘natural’ personhood and identity.
Including a wide range of writings by and about artists, juxtaposed with influential texts from diverse theoretical bases, this collection provides an overview of the eclectic scientific and philosophical sources that inform contemporary art’s investigations of nature.
WRITERS and ARTISTS surveyed include Giorgio Agamben, Jesse Ashlock, Michael Auping, Aziz + Cucher, Gaston Bachelard, Brandon Ballengée, Gregory Bateson, Jane Bennett, Henri Bergson, Joseph Beuys, Claire Bishop, Suzaan Boettger, Roger Caillois, Oron Catts, Mel Chin, Emma Cocker, Steven Connor, Lynne Cooke, Critical Art Ensemble, Walter De Maria, Jacques Derrida, herman de vries, Mark Dion, Vilém Flusser, George Gessert, Oliver Grau, Tim Griffin, Félix Guattari, Hans Haacke, Henrik Håkansson, Peter Halley, Donna Haraway, Helen & Newton Harrison, David Harvey, Pierre Huyghe, Eduardo Kac, Bruno Latour, Pamela M. Lee, Jean-François Lyotard, Tom McDonough, Denise Markonish, Mary Mattingly, Ana Mendieta, Laurent Mignonneau, Jacques Monod, Robert Morris, Arne Naess, Thomas Nagel, Trevor Paglen, Jane Prophet, Ingeborg Reichle, Alexis Rockman, Nikolas Rose, Andrew Ross, Tomás Saraceno, Mark Sheerin, Bonnie Sherk, Robert Smithson, Christa Sommerer, Alan Sonfist, Stelarc, Paul Tebbs, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Vladimir Vernadsky, Victoria Vesna, Carl Zimmer, Andrea Zittel and Ionat Zurr.