Beyond – Discovering society-nature co-evolution

Mankind entered the Anthropocene – the era of humans controlling Earth system functions and unbalancing a generously mothering system. The human race managed to almost completely uncouple itself from nature in order to control and exploit it. Yet, the people are ignoring the destruction they are continuously causing. At the same time the mankind’s inability to grasp the scale of its destructive effects on the environment has developed into an unbearable inaction. Paradoxically, while nature struggles to survive, mankind’s wealth and industry thrives.This antipodal society-nature co-evolution results in various contradictions: the population of the human species grows rapidly, while simultaneously numerous species go extinct through human action and increasing wealth of the world population appears at the same time as various livelihoods of plants and animals are destroyed. The human interference acts on levels from the atmosphere to microbiotic habitats and engages with all scales. Yet, people are used to perceiving only a limited scope – the spatial level the human eye can see.

BEYOND breaks the limits of the human perception by broadening the horizon of the observer by confronting him with scales he is not able to see in everyday life. The project puts emphasize on the society-nature co-evolution by showing a site of human impact at different scales. Within the journey through scales the interference of people with the environment varies between visible and invisible, yet depicting the same site. In that way Beyond challenges the observer to question his point of view and look beyond what he is normally able to see.

We decided to do case studies on different scales of society-nature co-evolution by applying a visual concept of shooting on different levels in various locations and combining this material with freely available satellite imagery. We utilized macroscopy, traditional photography, aerial images shot with a quadcopter and satellite imagery. The locations were chosen to depict environmental issues in the vicinity of the Oulanka national park. Mining, tourism, logging and forestry, excessive reindeer herding, invasive species, air pollution and light or sound pollution were among the themes discussed.

Altogether the process was repeated in four different locations; in an air quality measuring station (66° 19’ 11’’ N, 29° 24’ 11’’ E), Juomasuo test mining site (66° 17’ 19’’ N, 29° 11’ 57’’ E), Ruka skiing center (66° 10’ 10’’ N, 29° 08’ 26’’ E), and in forest area near the Oulanka research station (66° 21’ 34’’ N, 29° 19’ 22’’ E). Concurrent with the still photographs our group also worked on a video titled Above & Beneath.

Collaborators: Helinä kuusela from aalto university, Fanni Uusitalo and Pia Laiho from the University of Lapland, and Constanze Bonni Werner from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin with special thanks to artist Antti Tenetz.