Turning land into landscape has been an artistic project in the west since the 18th century. Perhaps it was precisely at the moment in which nature ceased to be natural that artists began to appropriate it for art in and of itself, not simply as a background setting for the actions of biblical and historical heroes. The emergence of landscape as a major genre in European painting coincided with the disappearance of actual wilderness, with the enclosure of the countryside in England, and industrialization in all of Western Europe. By the later nineteenth century, came the phenomenon with which we are now only too familiar: nature increasingly consumed by urban expansion, industrial growth, and suburban housing developments. In art, however, nature is often imagined as a source of inspiration and refuge from the wasteland of urban-industrial life.
These works are part of a series entitled Urban Pastoral focusing on Vancouver’s seaside landscapes. In this series my interest is in the ways pastoral green spaces such as parks, gardens, nature walks, forest preserves and others reconnect humans with nature and how such spaces might change with global climate change, high waters, and heat. A constellation of forces, including economic pressures, climate change, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and shoreline erosion, is affecting coastal areas worldwide. In Vancouver, the consequences of these changes for our society are beginning to register in the collective consciousness with recent reports that our city is one of the top ten around the world threatened by high waters. In this series of photographs I use unnatural coloration or technological processes (such as infrared photography) to suggest our mutating relationship with nature and its consequences. Images of natural beauty console us that everything we love about our everyday environment is not being lost, while the slight psychic dislocation caused by the technological interventions – curious colour palette and image inversions – hints at decay and dissolution.