The use-value of the 'natural' – projection and estrangement
Considering the symposium’s focus on the sliding scale between natural and cultural this paper looked at the values that 'natural' has for artists as a point of no return. Nature and a more constructed variation of it, cultured nature, provides a resistance that consciousness appears to require. Visual material was drawn from the work of artist Jim Searle, whose practice is built upon his experience in constructing wild-life havens for conservation. His practice argues that discussions of nature cannot avoid the complicated relations between mimesis and representation and considers science philosopher Bruno Latour’s concern with the ways that the human and non-human are distinct entities and his argument that a form of dialogue must be developed that acknowledges their distinction. It ended with a discussion of Werner Herzog’s recent work with material by the documentary film-maker Timothy Treadwell in the film Grizzly Man. Treadwell’s projection of his desire to be ‘with’ the wild onto the bear community he lived alongside ended in his (and his unwilling partner’s) deaths as he achieved the only kind of immersive relationship with the bear that was possible; he became its food.

Bridie Lonie
Head of School
School of Art
Otago Polytechnic
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