Saturday, October 07, 2006

Liberal Environmentalism (Nature Lovers) Vs. Organized Religion

It need not be this way, but Christian religious groups want to (literally) spread their gospel into the protected nature zones. The New York Times website currently has this as its top headline: Secular Laws Cede to Religious Exemptions. According to the article, which features a fight in Boulder, headquarters of Mark Amerika Nature Photography, the battle has begun:
“When you fly in to Denver at night, you can always pick out Boulder,” said Ben Pearlman, an athletic young lawyer who grew up there. “It’s the only one with big patches of darkness around it.”

As one of Boulder County’s three governing commissioners, the soft-spoken Mr. Pearlman talks about protecting the county’s spectacular beauty as if it were a sacred trust. In 1978, the county limited intensive development to already urbanized areas, buffered by large swaths of prairie and farmland. The landscape therefore now stands in stark contrast to the spreading carpet of subdivisions, office parks and malls in neighboring counties around Denver.

To Alan Ahlgrim, the mellow and mesmerizing preacher who founded Rocky Mountain Christian Church in eastern Boulder County in 1984, those encroaching subdivisions look like spiritual vineyards, full of families ready to be transformed by his church’s call for them to become “blessed to be a blessing” to others.

“The church has never grown fast enough to suit me,” Pastor Ahlgrim said with a grin that showed he was almost, but not quite, serious.

The multimedia video that accompanies the article, is all about A Battle in Boulder.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer (5)

"Deconstruction is inventive or it is nothing at all; it does not settle for methodical procedures, it opens up a passageway, it marches ahead and marks a trail." Jacques Derrida

"The human mind [..] operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature." - Vannevar Bush

"In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones." - Guy Debord

How do digital artists deal with the nature of digitality, especially in relation to identifying their bodies as a digital image navigating the virtual terrain (what Derrida calls the chora) where invention takes place?

I have suggested that after photography comes the photographer who then becomes a kind of digital thoughtographer. But how to get there? There has to be more to it than just picking up your fancy digital gadget, pointing it in the direction of an enframed compositional space, and applying pressure to the button you click. Could nature photography, filtered through the lens of digital thoughtography, turn into a form of environmental hactivism? Green lifestyle practice? Even a return to voluntary simplicity and networked transcendentalism?

Of course, there are and have been anarchic punks who practice and promote green (vegan) lifestyles, and some of the more radical agendas attempt to proactively intervene in mainstream political culture by trying to bring attention to the anti-environmental crusades of the multi-national corporations. But there seems to be two things lacking with a lot of these alternative cult groups and/or those who are/were influenced by them (the straight-edge scene is but one example): 1) they are anti-technology and/or 2) they are not very sensual and have difficulty attaching pleasure with sexuality (some practice abstinence as the way to proceed while others make their agenda clear by the way they dress or cut their hair; it's as if their body language is saying: hands off, or you may get hurt! [literally, like a spike in your eye]). Which brings up the question: can an anarchic, punk-styled political agenda mix and match itself with the trendy lifestyle practices of the liberal fashionistas?

We at Mark Amerika Nature Photography believe it's possible to have it all:

punk edge + natural lifestyle + technological sophistication + sensuous fashion

In thinking through issues revolving around the emergence of the artist-medium in political culture, we cannot help but wonder if this is not the real nature of the (inventive) beast.

Take a sneak preview of our new Website for more!

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer (4)

"Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image of Rocky Mountains captured by
Mark Amerika Nature Photography Studio

Why is it that to "go back to nature" one must drop out of commodity culture and resist the temptations of the society of the spectacle? It seems to me that being a live-action remixologist who goes "meta" with the data of contemporay life means you need to find a way to recombine various layers of experience in such a way that you end up becoming a natural. For those of us at Mark Amerika Nature Photography, a natural would be an emergent artist-medium who presents themselves as an avant-pop transcendentalist who is comfortable maintaining an oppositional stance against status quo consumer culture while remaining committed to a cyborganic Life Style Practice.

As Emerson, in "Nature" has written:
The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food.
But even more importantly:
Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result.
It is with this in mind that we just opened the virtual doors to Mark Amerika Nature Photography, as an entrepreneurial enterprise devoted to the discovery of what comes after photography and how that might relate to the nature of the (artist-medium) beast.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer (3)

Being a nature photographer, one should feel compelled to ask the obvious question, i.e. just what exactly is nature? Is it a sense of measure revealed in scenic circumstance? Who/what transmits it? I don't mean in a religious or even spiritual sense, but rather in regards to subject positioning. My intuition, itself a byproduct of what we must in some way consider the "natural," tells me that nature is in constant flux, or is the is that is constant flux, but that it [nature] also gets rendered in my body as a kind of digital image, one that I unconsciously process when positioning myself in the world. These positions are interrelated to subjective movements and may manifest themselves as physical movement (walking along a trail), dynamic movement (driving through Rocky Mountain National Park), interiorized movement (imaging memory), or even proprioceptive movement (knowing where I am without necessarily seeing where I'm going). In fact, this last one, "proprioceptive movement (knowing where I am without necessarily seeing where I'm going)," may be closer to what nature is than any rudimentary image of colorful trees captured by my Nikon Coolpix camera:

Images shot within walking distance of
Mark Amerika Nature Photography Studio

This is not to minimalize the effect of these beautiful images that I, as artist-medium, have captured. I was there. I know how beautiful these supposed nature scenes are. But the value of the experience is not in the composition nor the fact that I am the one who clicked the camera button at the right moment in time. For me, the value is in the sense of measure my "body-brain-apparatus achievement" conducted while clicking.

Does this mean I, as an artist-medium participating in clickual reality, am a rogue denaturalizer of everything beautiful while I am succumbing to the logic of invention and colonizing digital space?

The artist is a filter whose settings are in constant flux. Proprioceptively becoming a medium that invents their Life Style Practice as they go, the artist as nature photographer is in some ways a creative shaman, an inside-out upside down man who processes (surfs-samples-manipulates) the data for their own pseudoautobiographical uses. For some, it' second nature.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer (2)

Of course, what kind of serious nature photographer randomly takes pix with his camera without taking into consideration composition / shutter speed / aperture / exposure / depth of field / resolution and everything else you are taught in art school? I rarely, if ever, take these into account (okay, most of the night shots I took inside the Eiffel Tower two weeks ago forced me to tweak things a bit and yes, those were nature shots too). Perhaps I am not a nature photographer at all, but an unnatural thoughtographer, an alien transgressor of the real who operates in the age of aesthetics, a phantom figure whose signature event is to continuously mark time in commodity culture.

But commodity culture wears different masks. For example, shopping this past weekend at Boulder's organic farmers' market, with over 30 stalls from all over Colorado and where this time of year we can buy enormous bunches of red chard, rainbow chard, green chard, tatsoi, collard greens, carrots, curly kale, dinosaur kale, red russian kale, and endless bags of tomatoes, onions, green beans, green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, purple peppers, potatoes, squash (delicata, butternut, spaghetti, etc.), pumpkin, melon, apples, pears, plums, local goat and Camembert cheeses, Rocky Mountain red wines, 10-12 varieties of herbal soap from the Hemp Lady, and on and on. This is different than, say, filling up your SUV with gas from Iran or Saudi Arabia (if you own an SUV then the kindly Nature Photographer has two words for you: fuck off!).

Are these two images, captured ten minutes outside of my art studio, to be considered nature photography too?

Images of Boulder Farmers' Market shot by
Mark Amerika Nature Photography Studio

How can I put it? It's in my very nature to remix (culturally compost) the organic food I eat and that is grown in the local environment I stroll through with the multi-layered "scenic resources" I surround myself with not to mention the self-correcting environmental system that circulates inside my body as it fluctuates through various states of affectivity.

Is this what it means to feel natural?

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Monday, October 02, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer (1)

What is the nature of photography?

For me, it's all about the photographer, the "subject position" that experientially remixes their perceptions, their memories, and their proprioceptive affectivity with the world they are always capturing and manipulating for their own philosophical uses. So instead of asking "What is the nature of photography?" maybe we should ask "What is the nature of the beast?"

Over the last few days, this "world" I find myself "capturing and manipulating" for my own philosophical uses has been imbued with the gorgeous seasonal changes that are happening in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Living in Colorado during the early fall creates a pleasant conflict in the hearts and minds of artists throughout the region: given the fact that there is so much beautiful nature to go out and see, who has time to work?

But there's a lot more to it then that (see below), especially if you designate yourself a nature photographer (that would be like having your cake and eating it too).

Really, this is a serious problem. The last week has proven this fall to be one of the most beautiful seasonal shifts in decades, and this weekend the fall colors are peaking. For example, here are two images I captured over the weekend, right outside my studio:

Images shot within walking distance of
Mark Amerika Nature Photography Studio

As a committed nature photographer, I always have issues resolving this dilemma (of either staying in and working [being productive in the studio] or idly walking through the beautiful parks and trails located right outside the door to my studio).

There is this phrase we use in America where we say "nature's calling" and we usually take that to mean that it's time to go to the bathroom and relieve yourself. But for me, the idea of nature calling is more complicated. When nature is calling me, it's not literally ringing me on my mobile phone ("Hi Mark, this is Nature, where the hell are you? You were supposed to go to the bathroom over an hour ago!"). Rather, this reimagined experience of nature calling is something like me working in my studio listening to music while I manipulate more data on my computer but, out of nowhere, other images are calling, and I find myself in an unresolved, conflicted state of being where I want to go and experience the images. Notice I did not say "the idea of going outside crosses my mind" and that I then feel obliged to go and see the images. No, this is really something else, images as experiences, passing through my body, nudging me to move my body in such a way that it positions my nomadically inclined flux identity to experience a shift in the imagery.

This imagery, though, is not an external other that I have to go out and look at so that it then becomes real while I contemplate it from a distance of my choosing. How can it be? As I just said, this is more about " images as experiences, passing through my body, nudging me to move my body in such a way that it positions my nomadically inclined flux identity to experience a shift in the imagery." That is to say, the imagery is in me, and I am an image too, a digital image processing images, and this act of processing images is part of an simultaneous and continuous performance I am always taking part in so that I can experience new subject positions with(in) the imagery. This imagery is nature, and nature as imagery is my source material (the artist as nature's remixologist? remixological naturalist? Nature's own performance artist?).

In my "other lives" post, I suggested I was, among other things and at various times during the course of a single day, a novelist, a net artist, a film producer, a flaneur, an art historian, a glutton, a theorist, an interdisciplinary performance artist, a professor, and a simpleton blogger. But now I have one more to add: Mark Amerika, nature photographer.


UPDATE: In this regard, you could say that as a VJ artist, processing the imagery I have access to for my live remixes is the nature of my work.

UPDATE II: This email just in from the City of Boulder Open Space Mountain Parks Department:
As of 7:30pm Sunday night, rangers closed the spur trail leading from Lehigh into the Shanahan area. A fresh doe was cached near the trail and the back yards in the area. Rangers will return in the morning with the intent to relocate the carcass to a safer location. Stay tuned.
That's literally across the street from the Mark Amerika Nature Photography studio ...

UPDATE III: Cache moved. Trail to remain closed until tomorrow morning.

UPDATE IV (Oct 3rd): The spur trail leading from Lehigh into the Shanahan area is now OPEN.

Last night rangers found evidence that the mountain lion had found the deer carcass that had been moved from the north side of the trail to the south.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Mark Amerika, Nature Photographer

In the works, a week of blog posts confirming the launch of my new online net art work aka business Website called Mark Amerika Nature Photography where we ask ourselves: what is the nature of the artist beast?

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