This paper will analyze David Haines and Joyce Hinterding’s work Geology in relation to the theories of nature. Furthermore, it will provide a description of various philosophic views of nature by classic and contemporary thinkers.
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Many philosophers throughout the history of both Western and Greek philosophy regarded people as an intrinsic part of nature and tried to describe it in terms of the dichotomy between human and animal experiences.2 Aristotle considered humans, although not entirely different from animals, but somewhat distinct based on their inherent capacity for intellect and reason.3 Friedrich Hegel, on the other hand, saw humans as a transitional form between the two worlds: body and spirit.4
Modern thinkers such as Jeffery Kastner regard nature as a complex and “elusive” system that is separate from the human realm and is capable of producing us, other organisms, and structures.5 Others, like Bruno Latour, propose to get rid of the old dichotomy between humanity and nature and accept it as a composite that assembles humans and nonhumans.6
The work of David Haines and Joyce Hiterding offers a unique view into the magnificent way nature reasserts itself through the geological process at the macro level.7 The image reveals that the authors’ concept of nature is similar to Kastner’s idea of nature as a detached system capable of creation. It can be argued that the artists wanted to depict an entity that would exist independently of the process of sense perception. The picture that unfolds before the viewer shatters all conventional notions of nature and challenges the idea of the geological magnitude, offering a new meaning of it.8 David Haines and Joyce Hiterding invited spectators to escape their biological prisons and experience the sheer force of nature that is “beyond the viewer’s own organic networks.”9
Alfred North Whitehead regards nature as an entity that is completely independent of thought.10 He argues that its property is the basis for all-natural sciences. Although it can be observed via the perception of the senses, it is nonetheless, self-contained and exists independently of the human mind. Whiteheads deny a “homogeneous” way of thinking about nature and claim that the factor of sense-perception does not change the characteristics of the observed phenomenon. Therefore, nature, which reveals itself in the process of observation, is an entirely closed system. Even though it is not impervious to the sense-awareness, it still has to be discussed independently of the human observer and “without reference to the mind11.
Geology acquires a new level of depth when viewed through the prism of Whitehead’s theory of nature. Seismic events at the level of Earth magnitude can be captured by human senses and represented on scales and graphs. However, even though the foundational issues that cause damage to human buildings can be understood, measured, and explained, their existence is not connected to humanity in the way architectural structures do.
Geology suggests the finality of human existence and draws the narrow line between the existence of two worlds. In the light of Whitehead’s theory, the grim work of David Haines and Joyce Hiterding becomes only a detached photo of reality that does not have any aesthetic properties and just exists.
Geology opens to human perception a narrow door into the ‘life’ of an entity called nature. It serves as a revelation of the bare property of matter without reference to either “aesthetic values” or “self-conscious activity12.
Armstrong, Susan J and Richard George Botzler. The Animal Ethics Reader. London: Routledge, 2003.
Haines, David and Joyce Hinterding, Geology. 2015. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
Kastner, Jeffery. Nature. London: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 2012
Susan Ballard, Tracey Benson, Robert Carter, Tim Corballis, Zita Joyce, Helen Moore, Julian Priest, Vicki Smith, and Adam Hyde. A Transitional Imaginary. Sydney: Freerange Press, 2015.
Whitehead, Alfread. An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge. Cambridge: University Press, 1920.
Whitehead, Alfread. The Concept of Nature. Cambridge: University Press, 1919.
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- David Haines and Joyce Hinterding, Geology. 2015. Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
- Susan J. Armstrong and Richard George Botzler, The Animal Ethics Reader (London: Routledge, 2003), 76.
- Week 1, 1.
- Ibid., 1.
- Jeffery Kastner, Nature (London: Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, 2012), 13.
- Week 1, 14.
- Ballard et al., A Transitional Imaginary (Sydney: Freerange Press, 2015), 51.
- Alfred Whitehead, The Concept of Nature (Cambridge: University Press, 1920), 131-142.
- Ibid., 131-142.
- Alfred Whitehead, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge (Cambridge: University Press, 1919), 47-54.
- Whitehead, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge, 47-54.