One of the best methods used to dissolve the natural world into our psyche, and the way that most have come to know it best, is through the programs on television that highlight the landscapes of the American West. With an intent to educate and gain empathy for wild spaces, National Parks, and monuments, these documentaries present the natural world as sublime and tiptoe into the realm of hyperreality. Films depicting the landscape at its most seductive draw the public into a virtual landscape, masquerading as “natural".The sheer number of programs is staggering, and each viewing strengthens our bond with a falsified geography. It is now possible to know a place, such as Yosemite, without having ever stood in the valley and gazed upon the mountains or inhaled the air into your lungs. Knowing the flora, fauna, history, topology, and hydrology of a place no longer needs to be an exercise in exploration, it can come to us in the comfort of our own living rooms.
In Naturally Wonder, images are gleaned from one of these highly produced documentaries and photographed to reveal the structure of the television screen. At a distance they appear to be the type of imagery that we expect to see on television and in magazines, a natural and unspoiled land of enchantment and wonder. However, as the viewer moves closer, they are met with the experience of this beautiful landscape fragmenting into a grid of pixilated colors.
© Chris Mortenson 2015