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The Ethics of Earth Art

The Ethics of Earth Art

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Ethics of Earth Art
    Book Description:

    The Ethics of Earth Art analyzes the development of the earth art movement, arguing that artists are connected through their elucidation of the earth as a domain of ethical concern. Revealing the fundamental difference between the human world and the earth, Amanda Boetzkes shows that earth art mediates the sensations of nature while allowing nature itself to remain irreducible to human signification.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7358-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: At the Limit of Form
    (pp. 1-24)

    At the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, Washington, a giant hemlock tree lies entombed in an eighty-foot-long greenhouse. Having fallen over a ravine in a protected watershed area not far from the city, the tree was recovered by the contemporary American artist Mark Dion and installed in a conservatory that attempts to replicate the conditions of the old-growth forest from which it came. Now an artwork titledNeukom Vivarium(Figure 1), the tree rests underneath an elaborate system of water sprinklers, lights, and drains in a bed of soil, humus, and leaf litter. Though the tree is dead, its decomposition...

  6. ONE Contemporary Art and the Nature of Site
    (pp. 25-64)

    Though the systematized exploitation of natural resources now seems unstoppable, there has been no lack of vision on the part of artists of how to reinvent our relationship to the environment. A plethora of strategies have surfaced with a view to, in Robert Smithson’s now-famous phrase, “mediating between the ecologist and the industrialist.”¹ It is therefore worth examining the diverse approaches that orient art toward an ecological consciousness, as well as the political, social, and aesthetic issues that these new forms address. My introduction to earth art through debates about site-specificity responds to the risk of reiterating a binary between...

  7. TWO Spiral Jetty: Allegory and the Recovery of the Elemental
    (pp. 65-100)

    In two essays published inOctoberin 1979 and 1980, the art historian Craig Owens developed a theory of the merging of language and visual art read through the concept of allegory.¹ An allegorical impulse, in Owens’s view, explained the decentering characteristics of early earthworks and site-specific projects, namely, the fragmentation of the artwork into multiple texts and, correspondingly, its aesthetic of ruination. Furthermore, he understood the textualization of the artwork, and correspondingly the materialization of text as an object, as the primary indicators of a shift from a modern to a postmodern paradigm. By reconsidering these essays in relation...

  8. THREE Ecotechnology and the Receptive Surface
    (pp. 101-144)

    Spiral Jettydoes not merely use the earth as a medium of architectonic shaping; that is to say, it is not just a formed space in the land that can be occupied by the spectator. Rather, through textual modes of presenting the site, it reconfigures the dialectic between sites and nonsites (external nature and representation) as an intertwining of elementals. It thus enacts a confrontation between the impenetrable solidity of the earth and the dynamic temporality of water and light, drawing out this tension through textual modes of presentation. Through this overlap of elementals,Spiral Jettydemonstrates the earth’s impenetrability...

  9. FOUR The Body as Limit
    (pp. 145-180)

    The artworks I discussed in chapter 3 take two complementary approaches to making the earth visible: first, they confront the viewer with elemental phenomena, and second, in troubling the viewer’s mode of encounter, they posit the earth as a sensorial excess, thus foregrounding the limits of the perceptual field. By providing a surface of visibility for elementals, be it the aperture of aSkyspace, the reflection from a camera obscura, or the dispersed images, colors, and atmospheric conditions in an installation, Turrell, Drury, and Eliasson mobilize an ethical contact with natural activity. Significantly, the ethical encounter here is founded on...

  10. CONCLUSION: Facing the Earth Ethically
    (pp. 181-200)

    In a 2006 press release, Greenpeace reported on the danger of accumulating plastics, also known as “marine debris,” in the world’s oceans.¹ Estimating that over 267 species of animals were being contaminated through the ingestion of plastic waste floating in the water or aggregating on seabeds and shores, not to mention the multitudes of ocean creatures becoming entangled in this human litter, the report presented a sobering account of the impact of environmental negligence. Perhaps the most disturbing information in the report was on the “world’s largest floating dump,” the North Pacific Gyre. A giant vortex of trash, roughly estimated...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 201-212)
  12. Index
    (pp. 213-229)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 230-230)