“Remote Sensibility: the ecology of perception” presented by Berkman

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Marten Berkman, Remote Sensibility: the ecology of perception
  • Video still from YouTube


Presentation Title:

  • Remote Sensibility: the ecology of perception



  • Disruption of my own traditional photographic practice has been an essential part of my process in distilling imaging of the land and our relationship with it. As images of pristine landscapes devoid of humans continue to be used to sell conservation ideas and cars, I have wondered about the dichotomy that I am a part of perpetuating. What are the actual layers of meaning which overlap in the land, and how do we honestly reflect our own nature in it?
    In arctic forays and the subarctic where I live, stereoscopy has become an essential colour on my palette to disrupt two dimensionality of my photo representation. The z axis is our sense of presence. The emotive and visceral experience the added dimension brings us compelled expanding the still image to moving tableaux of the remote landscapes we are a part of but which most of us never see first hand. In large scale video installation, my photography becomes the slow food of cinema, as viewers would spend many minutes observing nothing more than the grass swaying in the wind on an arctic outcrop.
    However the ultimate disruption for me has been to dissolve the separation of subject from object. I am confounded by the duality with nature that we perpetuate in images of it… the image perpetuates our own conditioning of separateness… the medium is an artifact, long removed from the cave walls of our ancestors where our canvas was part of the earth.
    Or is it so removed? What are technology and creativity but our very own nature, and hence inseparable from the rest of nature? Why is our technological nature so at odds with the rest of the living community? Is it that our perception is orphaned, that we no longer see the wall of the cave connected to the mountain and the river…as though our consciousness has not caught up to the means of perception we have crafted?
    To disrupt this separateness, I have been inspired to reflect the viewer in the landscapes so distant yet so inseparable from us. Working with my friend Baptiste Bohelay, fellow artist and highly skilled and playful interactive designer, we let the viewer find themselves in the stereoscopic imagery of remote landscapes: particles play in the land with our movement in the gallery space. The land is no longer an other, but a place which symbolically we are a part of. And in that symbolism, perhaps we begin to fathom the literalness of our relationship, as every calorie of energy, every metal, every plastic, comes from these distant places. These places are in fact now all around us, in the materials of our manufactured world.
    I am compelled to disrupt how we see the land and ourselves in it, to have a deeper and more vigorous perception of human nature, the rest of nature, and the relationship between us.