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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3650F
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Carving out a future with a flint and an axe Open Access
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Jonathan S. Green
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My current research is focused on the history of camping and wilderness survival. Specifically, I am exploring how our ideas about the landscape are constructed, and what it means when we interact with the wild by engaging in activities like camping.
My recent mixed-media prints combine my own documentation of the so-called ‘wilderness’, with appropriated images from historical exploration documents, survival books, and online images of wild landscapes. These are merged with constructions of campsites and temporary shelters, which stand in for both real and imagined human experience. It is not always evident whether the shelters I have depicted are occupied, or if they are relics, abandoned. These campsites, and their accompanying landscapes, have become what Robert MacFarlane has described as a “site of contest” between humanity and nature (“Eeriness: Tracing an Unquiet Tradition in British Landscape Art, Momus, April 2016). The tension is intensified in today’s Anthropocenic age of global ecological crisis.
My finished printworks are rarely entirely accurate in respect to the geographic, geological, or biological reality of the landscapes but, rather, reflect changing cultural ideas of the landscape. This creates a juxtaposition between the actual and the ‘romantic’ landscape. My prints (and print-structures) also contain photographic elements combined with hand drawn elements: the documentary with the speculative, the imagined with the actual. I also use a subtle dark humour to expose the ironies in our notions of the wilderness.
My method of collage, and my use of found objects, is intended to mirror our cultural construction of wilderness and reflects how we, as a society, build and break meaning depending on the various elements involved in the context of its use. The provisional feel of my work – it’s DIY aesthetic – is meant to make the prints, the materials, and our idea of the wilderness feel familiar. My goal is to create an uneasy, eerie, and dangerous view of the landscape where our historical past must be reconciled with our contemporary desires to experience the landscape.
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