So the other day in one of my classes I had that moment when you think to yourself “My classes are merging. Weird.” Sometimes that happens to make the class more interesting. This happened to me in my large format digital printing class with Collin Williams. For our first assignment, Collin assigned us too look up an artist under a specific topic. One of these topics just happened to be the Natural Environment and Ecology. I like to think that I took this class because of the fact that over the summer I took a class where I ended up doing a lot of work based on the environment ( Which ended up looking like a series of cheesy horror movies). That is until I realized that there is no way that is possible since I signed up for this class in the Spring. I suppose this subject matter is something I always had an interest in subconsciously. Well for this assignment, it was our job to find an artist we liked and to make our own piece as an response to it. I went through a ton of these artist until I found the one I really liked. I choose to make a response to Pascual Sisto’s work which I happen to find pretty humorous. In his work he happens to do some ridiculous things like his series called obstructed views where he goes to all these well known historic places like the Effiel Tower and decides “Nope, I’m going to take a photo of this tree blocking it instead” which when you think about it is pretty silly and his Yucca Valley portraits where he could have taken a nice photo of someone but decides “No, I’m going to stick a rock in front of their head.”
One of my favorite things from this artist though are the videos he creates. He seems to make these videos that kind of celebrate the fores of nature. For example, he has this one video he made called 28 Years in Implicate Order where he has all of these bouncing balls that start of practically in unison then completely begin to go off on their own chaotic movements only to end back bouncing in unison again. It is one of those things where you think to yourself “Huh, How did he do that? I never really thought about that before.” I’ll post one of those videos at the bottom of this entry if anyone wants to see it. I feel like Pascual is an artist that someone could easily look over unless they took a second glance and wondered why that artist did what they did. The Obstructed View photos just kind of looked like they could have been taken by anybody and quite possibly badly at that until you try to think the way the artist did at the time.
Pascual was not the artist that reminded me of class. It was actually the work of Mark Dion and another two artist that happened to remind me our last class last Monday. We ended up discussing how people perceive nature and how strange it is for people to think of places like National Parks to be different from the nature that is all around them and why people think certain forms of nature are beautiful compared to other parts of nature that some may see as grotesque. When I was researching Mark Dion I came across some of his instillation and sculpture pieces. One of the websites had an article about his use of tar in art work.
This blogger says,
“I remember watching in class the Art21 episode that featured Mark Dion. In it, he described tar and its uses throughout history. It was often used as a weapon, but also as a warning. Criminals or enemies would be hung from trees and covered in tar as warnings to others. In that same way, the animals are hung from this tree. When discussing the concept of tar, he wasn’t working on this piece but one quite similar that featured only rats being hung from a single tree. It was meant to discuss the rat and its effect as a disease carrier and how it has often been considered such an enemy to humanity. In this piece, there appears to be a rat hung from the tree, but also a variety of other animals including birds, a frog, and a snake. All have the potential to carry disease, but none are associated with it like the rat. Because there is such a broad range of animals hanging from this tree, I imagine he’s discussing a much broader subject – possibly how we’re treating the environment (the tree is covered in tar as well) and its inhabitants as enemies. The way a few of the animals are hung evokes the idea of an execution, especially of the rat and the lizard on the right of the sculpture. This feels like it is inviting the viewer to dialogue with the piece: Are some of these creatures truly our enemies? It’s a difficult question, for in order to contain the spread of disease we often do resort to the extermination and killing of animals like rats. When it’s a matter of survival, perhaps we sometimes need to treat the environment as an enemy. “
I couldn’t help but think about how that last line is very true and may be a reason as to why we have these parks in the first place. Just like in Cronon’s “Trouble with wilderness” essay, I feel like we used up all our resources and the parks are our way of making us feel better for the way we treated the land as both out enemy and for our survival.
Here is that Pascual video I mentioned earlier.