Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Second Nature

This is a most fascinating and irritating tome. I feel at the same time drawn to these pics and appaled by what I deem the absurdity of this endeavour to (sort of) naturalise technology. Moreover, to call this work Second Nature I do find quite a stretch. Nevertheless, I'm fond of the aesthetic pleasure these photographs evoke. As regards the motivaton, I'm less enchanted.
There are two essays that accompany these pics. I wasn't too sure what to make of the title "Transcending Nature: Antennafication of Humans and Trees" by Ziad Mahayni but it surely made me laugh out loud. How come? Well, to start with, we still do only understand a very small part of nature, so how could we possibly transform what we are not even capable of grasping? Secondly, I'm at a complete loss as to what "antennafication of humans" could possibly mean. Are we turning into antennas? I for one would definitely not be interested. As always, what we see in a picture we bring to it.

The second essay "Fake Foliage and Faux-cades: The contextual authenticity of disguised infrastructure", despite its rather pretentious title, is the typical academic piece that goes back to history in order to explain phenomena that did not exist back then. Amy Clarke takes a different view: "Much of the infrastructure we now hide had its origins in the nineteenth century, and it was initially celebrated rather than disguised." It is an interesting and informative read.
My own take on these pics: I see these cell phone towers as yet another attempt of not wanting to confront the reality that we've created. We can't really stand ourselves and what we have created respectively and so we prefer to rather not see it. Hence we hide it, beautify it or make it look exotic. No question, these cell phone towers do look intriguing, I find them marvellous and distinctly unreal.

Last but not least, this is a tome that to me is an invitation to ponder fundamental questions, And, that is exactly what the two essays that complement the pictures do. Also, I find the framing excellent. Richard Rorty came to mind: "Existence with all its horrors is endurable only as an aesthetic fact."

Işık Kaya & Thomas Georg Blank

Second Nature
Kehrer, Heidelberg 2022

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