Hard Ecology: Rethinking Nature in an Abstract Landscape represents a new direction for me as far as book design goes. Up to now I've been happy with the books I've done before. These include two fairly traditional books, which include a significant amount of text, as well as several photographic monographs. All of these can be seen on my website.
Hard Ecology differs because I conceived it as a Fine Art Book. While the themes follow directly from work I've been doing for many years, the book design is a deliberate departure from the earlier books. The new book is now available to preview in its entirety with no obligation to purchase at MagCloud.com.
The following is my introduction (which actually appears at the end of the book.)
Ours is a time of reckoning. Depending upon your point of view, we have either reached the “end of nature” or we are on the cusp of a new nature, one that reflects our own agency—for good or ill. Once we inhabited nature. Paradoxically, it also inhabited us. But we were always a little uncomfortable wearing nature on the inside—as if it were a disease. Exterior nature we pummeled and paved. We built our palaces on top of it and excreted our effluents into its veins. Our interior natures we psychoanalyzed and medicated. We molded our physical natures with fitness regimens, dietary supplements, liposuction and Botox. We believed all along in our dominion over nature. Some still believe. Solutions to climate change, overpopulation, mass extinction, and other seemingly intractable problems—they claim—are at hand. Salvation will come in the form of genetic modification, nanotechnology, renewable energy…
Emerson (1836): Nature, in the common sense, refers to essences unchanged by man.
McKibben (1989): Since nothing on earth remains unchanged by man, we are at the “end of nature.”
It is a time of reckoning. Understanding our place in the world that we have wrought will be a hard lesson in ecology. We have tamed the wilderness, shaped nature, tried to design it into submission. Nature has been transformed, reduced, and abstracted. Nature is increasingly compromised or redeemed by our own actions. But nature is not—never has been—separate from us, from what is human. We have always been part of nature, inseparable except in our own minds.
Ecology is the study of relationships in the natural world. There can be no complete understanding of ecology without knowing where the human fits into the web of life.
Hard Ecology: Rethinking Nature in an Abstract Landscape is a photo essay that establishes a narrative with no real beginning or end. Instead it poses a closed loop, a sequence of interrelated images derived from an abstract landscape. The locations of the images are identified, but they are irrelevant. They range from the sublime to the banal, from distant places to my home neighborhood. Individually, these photographs are metaphors. They are visual examples of synecdoche, the literary form in which the part represents the whole. They symbolize both the fragmentation we experience in our everyday environment and cultural strategies for reassimilating with nature. Collectively, they create visual and conceptual relationships that are meant to stimulate new understandings about the meaning of nature and our place within it.
Again, if you wish to preview the book - or to order it - go to MagCloud.com.