stephen.chen.sf photography
portfolio : bounded nature

BOUNDED NATURE is a photographic series and installation that investigates the dialectic and tension between the natural and the man-made in urban environments; how nature is contained, pruned, and rendered “invisible”. Nature becomes dis-”figured” through de-centering, which is both a commentary and metaphor for urban dwellers’ ritualized and cultivated unconscious of their impacts on the larger environment in their everyday actions. Urban photography has created a pervasive trope of the city to the extent we learn not to “see” nature in depictions of urban settings; our gaze cultivated instead towards the geometry and lines of the man-made. On the other hand, landscape photography (whether the unspoiled vistas of Ansel Adams, or the degraded beauty of Edward Burtynsky) have favoured exotic and far-flung locales that further distance the urban dweller in appreciating their intricate relation to the larger environment. In hybridizing tropes of landscape and urban photography to focus on the dis-”figured” nature, BOUNDED NATURE attempts to center the relationship of the natural in the urban environment by the intimacy of the subject matter, and in shifting the discourse of weeds/decay to a symbol of optimism and struggle. The use of false-color infrared imagery renders the typically “invisible”/”ignored” nature in those settings to the foreground; and represents a new way of seeing the everyday and our relationship to the environment.