This week I was particularly drawn to the following paragraphs from an article about Daniel Gustav Cramer’s work.
“It’s true, I am thinking a lot about nature. Unfortunately, I spend far too little time outside. As we are somehow so far away from it, an animal living in its natural habitat feels abstract, reminding me of something that is not of my world or maybe a faint memory of a time long past.
In a strange way, this detached gaze opens a back door into the nonhuman world, turning us into distant relatives. It is even more the case as works are not about landscape or nature, but images of it. A picture of nature relates to an origin, something from a different time. We come from nature, then through technology are disconnected from it and ultimately are willing to destroy it.
I just talked with a beekeeper in the Spreewald near Berlin about the disappearance of bee populations in relation to genetically manipulated crops. These days I probably spend an hour a day researching on YouTube and other sources into what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now. The worst thing ,
next to all the fatalities in the animal world, is that BP is not questioned or criticized. The media accepts things as they are. And I am sitting there, with a cup of tea in my hand, in front of my screen, passively taking it all in.
But you were asking about my relation to nature as part of the work. Using photography to document nature as an abstractum is working so well, because the medium connects us with what we can see with our own eyes and, at the same time, it excludes a part of reality, the one that remains outside the picture. Therefore, nature presents itself as real and abstract.”
“Perhaps our times bring the pleasure of endlessly setting sail and returning in all kinds of ways. Though this state keeps us in a way distant from life. I often find myself in the role of an observer, not belonging here or there, looking at things with a certain neutrality.
Jonas Mekas describes in one of his diary films the state of the tourist, the one who passes a shop window, stops, looks inside, wonders, stares at his own image in the glass, then again at the shoes on display, wanders off or maybe returns some minutes later… Travelling offers exactly this. I feel most connected to life around me when I am detached from it.
I remember sitting in a train drifting through the countryside passing village upon village filled with houses, gardens, cars, windows, each one evidence of a personal story, of suffering and joy, memories, hopes, all swallowed up by the ones next-door, and village upon village.
In the book In Praise of Blandness François Jullien describes the development of the paintings of the Chinese artist Ni Zan ( fourteenth century), who throughout his life painted the same landscape unfolding in front of his studio. He did so not to express his attachment to his surrounding, but the very opposite, his growing detachment.”
“I remember vaguely a sentence of Simone Weill that I read some years ago about the experience of being in nature: “How beautiful and perfect must this place be without me being here.” Photography can to some extent place the viewer somewhere, inside an image, where he can exist without his or her own physical presence.”
http://www.danielgustavcramer.com/infotxt.html [accessed 07 Mar 2022]