Thanks to Judy Natal and everyone who came out for her EARTH / FUTURE presentation on Sunday, particularly the Congress of Collectives participants. Special thanks to Meow Wolf, who created the immersive psychedelic installation in which many Congress events will take place this month, and to Parfyme, for helping with with our visual bibliography on futurity (more after the jump!)
The Chicago-based photographer presented a talk in three sections: a definition of the terms utopia, dystopia, ecotopia, reflecting on their origins and applications within art and popular culture; an account of the history of Biosphere 2 and her encounter with it, as co-founder of its artist-in-residence program; and a tour through her latest photographic project, Future Perfect. Organized as four decade-sections flowing backwards in time from 2040 to 2010, the this series (and book) is comprised of images with varying degrees of legibility, suggesting technologized landscapes and new kinds of relationships between humans and their environment. Rather than taking a linear or didactic approach to her narrative, Natal juxtaposes otherworldly, seemingly sci-fi images from three distinct real-world sites (Biosphere 2, a Las Vegas desert preserve, and geothermal springs in Iceland). Her approach emphasizes hands on research and exploration of diverse source material, finding images in the present that evoke futurity’s recurring tropes and some of the hopes and anxieties that accompany them.
In collaboration with SPWS, Natal, who is currently teaching a course titled “Utopia—Dystopia—Ecotopia” presented a kind of ‘visual bibliography’ of the texts that inspire her to explore these issues which audience members could walk through, creating connections in a similarly nonlinear, imaginative fashion.
SPWS is grateful to artist Jo Q. Nelson and Andrew Beccone of the Reanimation Library for their generous contributions to the bibliography. The book cover images from the installation are gathered here and we will be posting this as a text list very soon.