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Volume 23 / No. 1 / 2012
Cornell University
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Landscape: An Image or an Encounter with Nature?

Maria Y. Park, Art Park
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As we go about living, in so many ways instead of looking and actually seeing, we’re just seeing the projections of things. We see not what we’re actually looking at, but what we think we want to see.

Do You Really Experience Nature?

What if our notion of nature is specified through its representations and not through nature itself? Our perception of nature may not be about nature, but about the way other people want us to experience it—like a consumable object.

For a long time I’ve been interested in how media prescribes the way we should understand places or experiences through the containment of an image. I want to look at that image, take it apart, and then add a “delay” to the way we experience it.

Counter Nature

Recently I completed a three-part series titled Counter Nature, which presents encounters with nature as against its cultural construction. The series is also in response to nostalgic visual conventions of landscape and the packaged media images of nature that deactivate our looking and further render nature as a remote concept. Through a series of paintings, painted objects, and photo-transferred cubes, I explored the distance between the embodied experience of nature and its visual representation.

The title, Counter Nature, is a double entendre referring to a site of transactions with nature, as well as contradictions of the natural. In the first two parts of the series, I worked with images of national parks, like Niagara Falls and Hanauma Bay in Hawaii, looking at vantage points outside of the directed encounters. Instead of the commanding falls, for example, I worked with less iconic scenes like the parking lot or the hillside next to the falls.

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