Art on the Ground
Art on the Ground is the written work for my MSc Environment and Natural Resources course. It is the product of three years research into human-nature relationships in a creative context. It can be downloaded below or read here, at skemman.is
Deeper understanding of human-nature relationships is of critical importance in the face of exacerbating environmental problems. Artists and creative practitioners worldwide have begun advocating cultural and creative responses to these problems, including the apparent ‘disconnect’ of humans from the natural world, the issue which this thesis addresses. The research followed a qualitative research methodology, including auto-ethnographic methods and semi-structured interviews with artists and participants. By exploring four participatory out-of-door artworks and performances, in both Iceland and Scotland, the ways in which individuals experience, perceive and relate to the natural environment through the arts was explored. This was juxtaposed with three nature interpretation walks in protected areas, further questioning how trans-disciplinary approaches can be taken to environmental issues, human-nature relationships and environmental education. The capacity for such experiences to facilitate the actualization of an interconnectedness and feelings of unity with the natural world was further questioned. The analysis looks closely at the links and tensions that surfaced in the material, namely between science and art, mind and body, emotion and cognition, site-specificity and place, and direct and indirect experiences with the natural environment. Fundamentally, artistic engagements with the natural environment are seen to be an important way to develop and deepen feelings of interconnectedness. Collaborative, multidisciplinary approaches involving both arts and science are needed when approaching environmental issues.