“Build therefore your own world.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson,
I lived in the Bay Area for over a decade. Away from the wild woods of Alaska where I grew up. Away from the changing seasons, fresh oxygen and staccato sounds of a forest’s inhabitants. Sure, I could easily escape from the cement and find those pleasures out of town, but it seems the trend of bringing nature to us has grown in the urban-centric digital age, and the cement dwellers are being given new ways to experience it.
Interior design is the most obvious place to look for this theme of bringing nature where it isn’t. We have rustic furniture, living walls, and the latest addition of a hanging thundercloud made of felt and filled with speakers. Designed by Richard Clarkson, the cloud uses an arduino to activate faux meteorological conditions. In a place like San Francisco where fog and sun were my only options, I would’ve killed to have a cloud in my bedroom to remind me what mother nature sounds like.(And to cover up the echoes of drunken Mission owls and their mopeds.)
But I could live without thunder. It’s the forest I could never survive without. Which is why the audiovisual work of Joanie Lemercier and James Ginzburg in their Nimbus project resonates with me. Using 3D scans, six GoPro videocameras and 2D reconstructions they translate the real forest into a digital one. It’s meant to be seen on an immersive 360º screen so you can really be reminded of nature’s expansiveness.
Through technology we’ve gained so much control over our environment that we can cover up nature altogether and get transfixed by modern innovation - new materials and forms cover up rugged organic ones. But when we go too far we always wander back to the center by going out of our way to reincorporate that which reminds us of our origins. We make unnatural things look like nature then we manipulate nature to look manmade, then the cycle begins again. These trends play off of each other like a series of mirrors angled at 45 degrees reflecting numerous images of the same thing. Ultimately we reflect what makes us.
J. D. Sampson