Dion Chapter 3

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'S.R. Is there a concrete goal, or how would you conceptualize it?

M.D. It's hard to think about art making as goal-oriented, and I don't think about individual pieces as goal-oriented, but I think about my whole practice as an artist as a group of activities that are unified around a central field of interest which is really about looking into the history of the representation of nature, almost in a kind historical way, to help understand our attitudes. What are the roots of our attitudes and in our behavior in relationship to the thing called »nature« now. Tracing back some aspects of what gets to stand for nature at a particular time for a particular group of people changes, and how that change is articulated through art and science, theology, the practice of landscape, a whole series of discourses that intersect on nature. I mean essentially it is an epistemological practice in some way, which is always looking back to sort of trace our footsteps to where we are now. How do we get here? How do the assumptions about the natural world – where do they come from, how are they derived? Sometimes people think my practice is a little bit, maybe, anachronistic but it's more historical than anachronistic. I'm not talking about the »Golden Age« of nature; I'm always trying to put nature into a kind of historical perspective in some way. So my goal is really to understand the history of ideas about nature. My work isn't about nature, it's about ideas about nature, and to see how those things affect current attitudes, policies, expectations, assumptions. It's largely a discursive practice.

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