"For me the Internet has always been a physical space. Working as a sculptor, the first moment I started experimenting with HTML code and viewed the results in the browser, I witnessed a physical installation."
-Jan Robert Leegte talking to cont3xt.net
Notes on a New Nature is a physical manifestation of an ongoing research project conducted by artist, writer, and curator Nicholas O’Brien. The research critically examines and compares the relationships that contemporary artists working with digital media have to practices started in Modernist Painting – specifically the pursuit of capturing the virtual qualities of what constitutes a landscape. How does an artist depict a space faithfully enough to show its affect on a subject? Can art capture the space between the viewer and the horizon, and where does that horizon reside now that we can digitally circumnavigate the globe? Can the digital reconcile the physical?
One way that we know how to understand the natural is through the domestic spaces of our daily lives. The interior shelter allows for reflection on what is “outside,” and as a result positions civilization away from the natural. However, as various digital and virtual landscape permeate the domestic space, our notion of what constitutes the natural has become more complicated than a simple inside/outside dichotomy. We use all forms of digital and analog technologies to simulate the natural world daily, and artists in this show point to how these tools affect the ways in which the “realness” of the natural is no longer as simple as locating it outside your window.
This newfound complication highlights the central argument of Notes on a New Nature: our varied notion of what constitutes the natural is shaped by technology, which is a narrative that can be traced all the way back to the advent of agriculture and the dawn of civilization. Through employment of various digital approaches, artists in this exhibition reference this long-standing problem we face when attempting to represent landscape and acknowledge the ways in which digital technology has forever changed our understanding of nature.