July 7, 2010

Human Landscapes

This photograph was taken in late May of this year, over near La Brea avenue in Los Angeles. I took it after stopping by to visit the Fahey/Klein gallery right around the corner. For some reason I really like taking pictures of landscapes that have been heavily shaped by humans. Maybe this comes from my archaeological background...who knows. But the whole idea that there can be such as a thing as a "natural" and an "unnatural" landscape is absolutely fascinating. What makes something unnatural or fake? It seems the general idea is that human-altered landscapes are somehow unnatural, but there is really no reason why this actually makes any sense, especially since plenty of species alter their habits/environments. I tend to agree with David Harvey when he writes that there is nothing unnatural about urban environments such as New York City: "The circulation of money and of capital have to be construed as ecological variables every bit as important as the circulation of air and water" (in Spaces of Global Capitalism, 2005: 88).

This moves beyond mere architecture and creative hedge trimmings (although these are of course elements of human socio-ecological systems). The human environment includes practices, ideas, buildings, habits, and tendencies that cannot simply be seen as unnatural intrusions upon some idealized natural human state.

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