Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? – 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗?

Quaking before the unfathomable majesty of thunderstorms, mountains and the boundless ocean, Immanuel Kant described how the formidable experience of the destructive and terrifying power of the sublime natural world exposes our ‘physical helplessness as beings of nature’. Yet, man emerges triumphant in the final moment of sublime transcendence; nature is ‘small’ and inferior compared with the ‘infinity’ of reason and the human mind. In The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990), the Marxist critic Terry Eagleton described the sublime as a ‘phallic swelling arising from our confrontation of danger […] in the pleasurable knowledge that we cannot actually be harmed’. In our contemporary world, humankind has pushed global ecologies to the brink of collapse, provoking environmental catastrophes of our own making. This immense natural power no longer inspires poetic gratification; today, the danger is all too real.

Michael Snow, La Région Centrale, 1971, film still. Courtesy: the artist and LUX, London

Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗?

Michael Snow, La Région Centrale, 1971, film still. Courtesy: the artist and LUX, London

High upon a mountaintop in northern Québec, a desolate vista of rocky outcrops can be seen clustered around a glistening body of water, without a trace of human life in sight. Over the course of Michael Snow’s singular three-hour cinematic epic La Région Centrale (1971), this landscape is surveyed day and night by a restless camera which Snow likened to ‘an eye floating in space’. Rooted to the spot, a mechanical arm swivels and rotates the camera in sweeping gestures, scanning between clusters of stone and wisps of white cloud amidst a blue sky. This disembodied camera-eye makes no attempt to approximate human perception, nor does it convey any romantic subjective response to an experience of nature. Snow simply described the film as an ‘absolute record of a piece of wilderness’, which he portended to be a ‘Goodbye to Earth which I believe we are living through’. There is an invisible catastrophe deep in the seemingly neutral fabric of La Région Centrale – the sublime antithesis, an experience of helpless terror before a natural world that might soon be destroyed.

Annea Lockwood, Sound Map of the Hudson River at LCMF 2018. Courtesy: London Contemporary Music Festival

Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗?

Annea Lockwood, Sound Map of the Hudson River at LCMF 2018. Courtesy: London Contemporary Music Festival

The screening of La Région Centrale at last month’s London Contemporary Music Festival owed more to what Snow described as the ‘music’ of the film’s visual rhythm than its soundtrack, which consists of an austere chorus of beeps synchronized to the motion of the camera apparatus. Snow’s film was paired with a work that is in many ways its foil, Annea Lockwood’s A Sound Map of the Hudson River (1989), a sound installation of field recordings from the source of the river to the mouth. Echoing the hypnotic difference and repetition of Snow’s film, Lockwood’s portrait of the Hudson captures the everchanging life of its waters, travelling through small rivulets and rapid currents before culminating in the deep swell of the ocean. Yet, like Snow’s automated camera-eye, Lockwood’s installation feels far removed from an unmediated experience of the natural world; booming out over six speakers in Ambika P3’s cavernous subterranean space, the sound of a river reverberating between concrete walls is a reminder that for most urban dwellers, nature is something alien from day-to-day experience.

Annea Lockwood, Sound Map of the Hudson River at LCMF 2018. Courtesy: London Contemporary Music Festival

Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗?

Annea Lockwood, Sound Map of the Hudson River at LCMF 2018. Courtesy: London Contemporary Music Festival

In Kant’s understanding, it is the otherness of nature that engenders the sublime, in the recognition that man is ultimately autonomous and superior to the wildness of the natural world. Yet, we can no longer accept this absolute separation of man and nature, which would amount to a denial of our dependency on natural resources, and our accountability for the current ecological crisis. In the making of La Région Centrale, Snow felt it was imperative that he didn’t ‘colonize’ or ‘enslave’ this isolated landscape, declaring his ‘horror’ at the prospect of ‘humanizing the entire planet’. Likening the footage of this Canadian landscape to the ‘first rigorous filming of the moon surface’, Snow’s film is a fiction, a fantasy of an undiscovered land untouched by humanity. Even this desolate environment is not isolated from the far-reaching ecological consequences of human life.

Rebecca Belmore, Fountain, 2005. Courtesy: the artust

Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗?

Rebecca Belmore, Fountain, 2005. Courtesy: the artist

By bracketing out humanity in this staged interaction between nature and technology, Snow is guilty of ignoring the political legacy of this remote landscape, which was of course already colonized by the French long before La Région Centrale was filmed. Demands for the ‘decolonization of nature’ have exposed parallels between the colonized subject and the natural world, conceived as similarly passive terrains to be conquered. The Anishinaabe First Nation artist Rebecca Belmore has explored the power and politics of natural materials in the video Fountain (2005), projected onto a cascading screen of water. Filmed on the Vancouver coastline sacred to the Musqueam First Nation, Belmore is shown immersed in the murky waters as she struggles to pull a bucket to the shore, before finally hurling the its contents toward the camera, turning the watery screen a deep red, transmuted into blood. By confronting her audience with this simple dramatic gesture, Belmore violently exposes our culpability for the conquest of land and people. We cannot hold on to the sublime perspective of safety and superiority – our threat to nature is a threat to our own survival.

Main image: Michael Snow, La Région Centrale, 1971, film still. Courtesy: the artist and LUX, London

Nathan Geyer

Nathan Geyer is a freelance writer based in London.

Opinion /

Nathan Geyer
Opinion
London Contemporary Music Festival
Annea Lockwood
Michael Snow
Rebecca Belmore
Environment
Ecology


伊曼纽尔·康德在深不可测的雷暴、高山和无边海洋的威严面前颤抖着,他描述了崇高自然世界的毁灭性和可怕力量的可怕经历如何暴露出我们作为自然存在的“身体上的无助”。然而,在崇高超越的最后时刻,人类获得了胜利;与理性和人类心灵的“无限”相比,自然是“小”和“低等”的。在《美学思想》(1990年)中,马克思主义批评家特里·伊格尔顿将这种崇高描述为“我们在愉悦的知识中面对危险时产生的阳具膨胀,我们实际上不能受到伤害”。在当今世界,人类已经把全球生态推向崩溃的边缘,引发了我们自己造成的环境灾难。这种巨大的自然力量不再能激发诗意的满足感;今天,危险是非常真实的。迈克尔·斯诺,《中央地区》,1971年,电影《静止》。礼貌:艺术家和勒克斯,伦敦WPAP6021602,迈克尔·斯诺,洛杉矶中央,1971年,电影《静止》。礼貌:艺术家和勒克斯(Lux),伦敦位于魁北克北部的一座山顶上,一片岩石露头的荒凉景色,在一片闪闪发光的水域中随处可见,没有人的踪迹。在迈克尔·斯诺(Michael Snow)长达三个小时的电影史诗《中央区域》(La r_gion Centrale,1971年)中,人们日夜不停地用一台不安的照相机来观察这片风景,这台照相机把雪比作“漂浮在太空中的一只眼睛”。一只机械手臂扎根在这一点上,旋转着摄像机,做着扫视的手势,在蓝色天空中扫描着成串的石头和一缕白云。这种无实体的照相机眼睛既不试图接近人类的感知,也不传达任何对自然体验的浪漫主观反应。斯诺简单地把这部电影描述为“一片荒野的绝对记录”,他预言这是“与地球的再见,我相信我们正经历着这一切”。在看似中立的“中央区域”结构中,有一场无形的灾难——崇高的对峙,在一个即将被摧毁的自然世界面前,一种无助的恐怖体验。Annea Lockwood,2018年LCMF哈德逊河声音图。图片来源:伦敦当代音乐节Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗? Annea Lockwood,2018年伦敦音乐节哈德逊河声音图。礼貌:伦敦当代音乐节上个月在伦敦当代音乐节放映的《中央音乐节》更多地归功于斯诺所说的电影视觉节奏的“音乐”,而不是它的原声带。原声带由与摄影机动作同步的严肃的哔哔哔声组成。我们。斯诺的这部电影与一部在很多方面都有衬托作用的作品《哈得逊河的声音地图》(1989年),这是一部由河流源头到河口的现场录音装置。洛克伍德对哈德逊河的描绘与斯诺电影的催眠差异和重复相呼应,捕捉到了其水域不断变化的生命,在小河流和急流中穿行,最后到达海洋深处的涌浪中。然而,就像斯诺的自动摄像机眼一样,洛克伍德的装置让人感觉与自然世界的非中介体验相去甚远;在Ambika P3的洞穴式地下空间里,六个扬声器发出隆隆的声音,一条河流在水泥墙之间回荡的声音提醒着人们,对于大多数城市居民来说,大自然是来自于DA的异类。Y-日常体验。Annea Lockwood,2018年LCMF哈德逊河声音图。礼遇:伦敦当代音乐节Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗? Annea Lockwood,哈德逊河声音地图LCMF 2018。礼貌:伦敦当代音乐节在康德的理解中,正是自然的差异性产生了崇高,在认识到人最终是自主的,优于自然世界的狂野。然而,我们不能再接受这种人与自然的绝对分离,这就等于否认我们对自然资源的依赖,以及我们对当前生态危机的责任。斯诺在制作《中央区域》的过程中,觉得有必要不要“殖民”或“奴役”这片孤立的土地,宣称他对“使整个星球人性化”的前景感到“恐惧”。斯诺的这部电影将加拿大风景的片段比作“第一部严格的月球表面拍摄”,是一部虚构的小说,是一个对未被人类发现的土地的幻想。即使是这样一个荒芜的环境,也离不开人类生活深远的生态后果。丽贝卡·贝尔莫尔,喷泉,2005年。礼节:Artust Can Artists’ Relationships with Nature Kindle Humility and Respect for our Environment? - 艺术家与自然的关系能点燃我们对环境的谦逊和尊重吗? Rebecca Belmore,喷泉,2005年。礼貌:斯诺通过在自然和技术之间的舞台互动中将人类融入其中,对忽视这片遥远风景的政治遗产感到内疚。当然,早在《中央洛杉矶》拍摄之前,这片风景就已经被法国人殖民了。对“自然非殖民化”的要求暴露了殖民地主体和自然世界之间的相似之处,它们被认为是同样被征服的被动地形。阿尼希纳布的第一民族艺术家丽贝卡·贝尔莫尔(RebeccaBelmore)在视频喷泉(2005年)中探索了自然物质的力量和政治,投影在一个瀑布式的水屏幕上。贝尔莫尔在温哥华海岸线拍摄,这片海岸线是穆斯奎姆第一民族的圣地,她沉浸在浑浊的海水中,挣扎着把一个水桶拖到岸上,最后把桶里的东西扔向摄像机,把水屏变成了深红色,变成了血。贝莫尔以这种简单而戏剧性的姿态面对她的观众,猛烈地揭露了我们征服土地和人民的罪责。我们不能坚持安全和优越的崇高观点——我们对自然的威胁是对我们自身生存的威胁。主要图片:迈克尔·斯诺,洛杉矶中央区,1971年,电影《静止》。礼貌:艺术家和勒克斯,伦敦内森盖尔内森盖尔是一个自由撰稿人,总部设在伦敦。意见/内森盖尔意见伦敦当代音乐节安妮娅洛克伍德迈克尔雪丽贝卡贝尔莫尔环境生态学


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