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July 1 - November 11, 2018
Do humans and our creations lie somewhere outside of nature? If they don’t, what is unnatural? Our interpretations of these concepts are not universal, yet are fundamental to our world views and actions.
Large, three-dimensional letters spelling “#NATURE” glow and shine brighter as bodies approach. The ghostly proxy for nature, and its surrounding environment, becomes more visible as it is increasingly bathed in artificial light. This project explores our ever-shifting and contradictory relationships with nature and technology. What we consider natural and innate have long been mediated by technologies and impacted by our presence. When we get closer to nature, it is easier to observe, but at the same time, our proximity and gaze alters it. Both our real and simulated experiences of nature are increasingly enmeshed with plastic and pixels. With a tongue-in-cheek approach, #NATURE literally highlights this paradoxical relationship, and the irony of sharing and labeling messages, images, and videos with a “nature” hashtag. The hash symbol, “#”, can also be read as “number” or “pound.” Interpreted this way, the symbol speaks to our inclination to quantify, categorize, and shape the natural world.
Originally installed in the rural setting of Burl’s Creek, Ontario for the first Way Home Festival, and in Warkworth, Ontario for Sunday Drive, the #NATURE project continues to grow and evolve. #NATURE is presented here with a mix of both real and artificial salvaged plants, further blurring the line between cultivated and crafted, and highlighting the plastic landscaping found on the Harbourfront Centre campus and in many other parts of the city.
Sean Martindale is Harbourfront Centre’s inaugural Visual Artist-in-Residence in association with BRAVE: the Festival of Risk and Failure. Often using salvaged materials in his work, his acclaimed interdisciplinary practice is closely connected to the politics of public space. His interventions activate public spaces to encourage engagement, and often focus on ecological and social issues. Martindale’s playful works suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in urban environments.
Look out for more of Martindale’s projects, both old and new, installed around the Harbourfront Centre’s campus this year.