It is in our understanding that Earth and all of its features, the entirety of nature, is represented by data to us. Even from the beginning of our learning processes, our physical world is being shred to bits of information, is being “objectified” by a mapping procedure. For example, contour plots show us a high ground or a nice view.
Economic prospects and economic factoring has led humans to treat their environment, therefore the visualization of it, as sheer data, leaving no quality unquantified. Thematic maps are a growing field, where someone can see information depicted on a map such as quality of life, politic views, or even happiness.
From the simplest of tourist excursions to every country’s foreign politics and affairs, mapping and display of space can be (and actually is being used as) a tool. A very powerful tool in order to guide public opinion to (or far away from) a certain point of view. There are many cases of mapping where the final image is deliberately false or skewed. The most known example is the Mercator projection and its influence on land and race superiority, as it has been criticized.
These processes and practices have alienated humans from many aspects of nature. How many people of the (ever growing) population of large cities is in concordance with nature? We presume, of course, that visiting a rural area for two weeks in the summer is not enough to make you one with nature. How many of us are despised from insects, bogs, sticky plants or are frightened by animals? This alienation is, to be put bluntly, alarming. Nature is being destroyed for the sake of our (questionable) way of life and we are being disgusted and feared by it.
Our way of fighting back, one of many actually, is to recreate images (and memories) of our nature, using the most intimate and relatable object possible. Our bodies. So, in the “Memories of a traveler” we tried to isolate patterns of physical space, patterns that we ourselves have met in our friction with nature, in order to connect nature to ourselves.
We are aware that we are doing it backwards. We no longer depict Earth so as to know ourselves and our life in it. Instead, we photograph ourselves as physical space itself, and by that we try to repair a lost connection with nature. We cartograph ourselves with the hope that, if we finally see nature around us, on us, we will be able to see it, love it, and most importantly treat it, the way it deserves, the way we ought to see, love and treat ourselves.
Earth, nature, and us are the same. Otherwise, why do we all look the same?
Whether it’s a fine plowed field at dawn
Or three distant mountaintops,
watched by tired travelers at dusk,
by the fire.
Nature has it’s way of soothing us
Like swimming in a moon-bathed creek
a warm summer night.