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Naturally Hypernatural I: Concepts of Nature

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Edited By Suzanne Anker and Sabine Flach

Nature, a topic central to art history, is concurrently a dominant concept in contemporary art, art theory and its related disciplines such as cultural theory, philosophy, aesthetic theory and environmental studies. The project Naturally Hypernatural questions lines of tradition and predetermined categories that coexist with the topic of nature. Currently, nature in art surpasses the simple depiction of art as a material or object. To clarify and analyze the interrelations between nature and art is the aim of the project Naturally Hypernatural. Concepts of Nature – the first volume of this project – argues that contemporary art is predominantly concerned with concepts of nature regarding the depth of their implications in order to reveal and analyze their internal structure.

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In the Play of Shadow

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NICOLAS DE OLIVEIRA & NICOLA OXLEY

This text began as a written voiceover for an audiovisual lecture created for the conference Naturally Hypernatural: Concepts of Nature. The presentation, written for two voices featured artists’ soundrecordings, filmclips and stills. All these markers of atmosphere have been removed, and the writing has been edited and augmented. In short, we are not proposing to replicate the room, or the moment of live delivery. That moment, that atmosphere has been consigned to the memory of those present, or indeed forgotten.

Artists today demonstrate a keen interest in contemporary and historical models of nature, leading to renewed calls for an aesthetics of nature. Our interest here lies not with an interventionist approach leading to change, but rather with the acknowledgement that such change is always occurring, and that it is in no small way due to the understanding that the cultural and the natural are inextricably linked. In this way, our concepts of nature are indeed constructions arrived at by engaged practitioners in the sciences and in the arts. In particular, we are concerned with the phenomenological approach to nature devised by artists and writers. Experience of the world lies at the root of artistic expression, yet such experiences have often proven to be unreliable; but it is precisely this unreliable quality of experience, this sensation, that attracts artists, since it promotes the role of fiction. Stories are not only narratives of people and deeds, but also places in...

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