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City, Nature, Landscape and Art
Yvonne Buchheim
The way industrialised society experiences nature is to a great extent informed by technological means of perception in which scientific abstraction and systemic categorisation obscure direct, authentic experience. The concept of nature is thus formulated from reproduced observations, which are necessarily reduced, for technical reasons, to visual and acoustic sensation only. Owing to indirect, systematised perception, which replaces authentic exposure, our conception of nature is altered to one where reproduced experiences are equated with reality.

This way of presenting nature overlooks a myriad of subtle layers of direct experiences. I can only question nature in the environment that I am in and by this invite a process of involuntary enquiry.

My work is based on the physical involvement of walking through both landscape and cityscape which changes my receptivity in the particular environment. A walk has a life of its own. My art practice varies, alternating between shifts of perception. A synthesis of pencil and charcoal sketches, still and moving images and sound recordings are accumulated. Complimenting this anthology, words are used as brushstrokes undermining the structure of language, tracing an internal dialogue. These ‘immediate media’ delineate the things seen, touched and heard in their original states. Subsequently, a studio process is embarked upon, becoming a fusion of memory, impressions and knowledge, which are then used as source of the creation of art.

My working process mirrors the many-faceted perceptions of the land I have traversed (walked, floated, driven and flown across) which display nature in a perpetual state of flux. In my art practice, I seek to communicate the unclear, the confusing and the transience of form, to express what words cannot, but speak visually to the viewer, coaxing him/her to decipher meaning, to feel and to call forth memories. I aspire to originate open-ended images that cannot be grasped immediately but which have multiple possibilities for interpretation or definition. My personal vision of landscape undergoes a constant review.

Working with landscape demands an examination of the history of the actual term ‘landscape”. It has been a process of constant merging of culture with nature. The trans-formation from sacred to secular, from rural to urban in the last four hundred years is fundamental to the concept of nature in the Western world. The ambiguous edge between nature and landscape is related to the tension between landscape and cities. My work investigates the concept of “untouched nature” and encourages questioning it.

What impact does wilderness have on our culture and where does the threshold of domesticated landscape occur? The dialectics of the natural and artificial become visible, when art is dealing with nature’s separateness in our daily life.

Yvonne Buchheim, essay in her exhibition catalogue 'Yvonne Buchheim - Wind Sounds Promising Weather', September 2001