At the core, Meddling with Nature is about us and our environment. It’s about the walls we have placed to support our deification and what makes it so hard to tear them down. It really is about meddling with nature; The fun parts, the disturbing parts, the amazement of creation and the satisfaction of destruction.
Since western civilization has divided humanity from its environment, we’ve been feverishly trying to find some way to comfortably recognize our unity with it again, whether in a protective or exploitative mindset. Our modern culture cannot seem to reconcile this however. The modern environmentalist patronizes nature by the way in which it seeks to protect, like a parent coddles a child. The strip minor subjugates with the mindset that our planet is a producer of resources apart from our ecosystem.
As we become more technologically advanced, we erode our place on this earth, for better or worse, we stand as onlookers; unable to see ourselves intricately linked to our surroundings even as we produce so many studies that point to the contrary. An obvious “tell” of this notion can be found in our utter amazement when we learn something particularly “human” about an animal. Birds create art? Raccoons have a complex and highly advanced culture? Crows have not only a private language, but a regional dialect as well? Even the most natural of the naturalists find these things to be mind-blowing, even though we know that we didn’t invent any of it in the first place. These are not human traits, but traits of life on earth, but we are so used to a culture of subjugation that we actually have to program ourselves to be amazed at the adaptation of all of it, not simply its similarity to our own species. The process of this reprogramming started in earnest in the late 1800’s, but really hasn’t changed all that much since.
Meddling with nature is a body of work dedicated to the advancement of an inclusive naturalist philosophy by presenting art and evidence inspired by the wonderment and exploratory nature of the Victorian era and Age of Enlightenment. The narrative of the work follows the psychological transformation of the far flung naturalists as they spend years in isolation to come closer to an understanding of what it is to be part of Earth, not simply part of the World. Taking this contemplative approach, Meddling with Nature questions interactions of the past and future from a fixed point in the 1880s as a way to contextualize related modern concerns. It is also my belief that much of what we popularly believe has not advanced much past this era, and in some ways has actually “grown backwards.”
The stuff you see here online represents one naturalist’s struggle to find the unifying principles of life by dismantling it piece by piece. This is not so much a search for the demiurg, but a search for themes of elegance. These sculptures and mounts are remnants of that progression of discovery and experimentation, but a heavy focus of the educational component is solidly rooted in process.
Meddling with Nature has developed into a flexible business over the course of the last 6 years. What started as an idea intended for one or two gallery shows about my ideas regarding how a modern Victorian might play around with fine art in the modern world turned into something much larger. The character overtook the artist. Because of these original conceptual roots, you’ll see a fairly well developed philosophy and ethical code in the pieces that are produced. As it stands now, I have focused on three major components.
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll do my best to discuss what these categories mean to me and how I use them to describe what I see as the “state of affairs” in the naturalist’s world. We will start with the importance of education.