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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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The Invisible Worm

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JEANNE SILVERTHORNE

My project started out decades ago about something as far removed from nature as possible – about the hermetically sealed studio space. This was at a moment in the early 90’s when we were just beginning to see the stirrings of computerization and its implications for the fabrication of art and when the notion of the isolated artist genius working alone in his garret had been dismantled. In other words, the traditional studio was in ruins. So early pieces of mine set this stage, with images of collapse and destruction. I began to copy derelict wiring and plumbing systems that functioned as a kind of genealogical chart of the typical New York studio space where newer systems are simply slapped on top of older outmoded ones, creating a sort of palimpsest of the place. I began to excavate the studio as if it were an archeological site, to document the findings in various ways that included photos and video. Part of that excavation involved retrieving fragments of debris left over from art making processes – particularly casting processes – and enlarging them. At this point, suddenly what I had been calling a dead zone started to teem with life, one-celled amoebic life, perhaps, but amoebic triumphant and dominant. The joke was on me: nature cannot be kept out. Since then it has been clear to me that throughout a body of work intentionally multivalent, that deliberately refuses consistency and closure, there is always this obsession with the...

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