Monday, May 4, 2009

This ain't yo mamma's vin diagram!

The following diagrams represent my thoughts about the topics of this class (Human, Nature, Image) at the beginning and at the end of the semester. Please click on the image to expand it.



Note that the "after" diagram is much more complicated than the "before" diagram, almost as if the information had been digested and then regurgitated, mixing once-discreet morsels of thought into a soupy mess. Not that the mess is a bad thing.

Though my vin diagrams are a little bit exaggerated, this class has led me to a far more complex way of thinking about nature, humans' relationship to nature, and art that deals with these issues. In the first weeks of the class, I recall being a little confused about whether we were talking about nature, as in fields and canyons and oceans, or nature, as in human nature or the nature of life. In class, I defined nature as excluding things that humans made. Over the course of the semester, my definitions have become both more expansive and more clear. Now, when I talk about nature, I'm talking about something that includes humans and all of our activities and products, no matter how "unnatural" or synthetic. Our first readings, from Gary Snyder's The Practice of the Wild and from the "Nature" entry in The Dictionary of the History of Ideas were perhaps the most influential because they introduced new ways of considering nature and raised questions that I hadn't ever given careful consideration.

Without a doubt the issues raised in this class have had a significant impact on the work that I have been making and the way I have been thinking about it, which I have posted about throughout the semester. Early on, I watched a National Geographic program about homosexuality in animals (a clip is posted below), which has also played a role in my thinking about my work. I'm now framing my work within a discussion about sexuality and what is "natural" and "unnatural". I am quite adamently opposed to the idea that homosexuality is unnatural (as is often argued by those opposed to gay marriage, etc.), and my work is bent on positioning sex, whether hetero, homo, or something in between, as natural.