Earthday Nature Viewers are set of six Viewers placed throughout downtown Portsmouth, NH in honor of Earth Day and to celebrate our natural world. Each Viewer contained a map of other viewer locations and a project statement. These viewers provide an ironic contrast to the built, urban environment and offer an example of how I play with a sense of enexpectedness to engage audience in environmental issues.
Statement accompanying the map
Earth Day is not only an occasion to celebrate our vast ecosystem, it is also a time to reconsider our cultural and personal relationships to Nature. We are pulled from the routine of daily life to take in the bigger picture, to reflect upon our past actions and consider our future directions.
Portsmouth is a beautiful urban landscape set in a thriving environment of forests and estuaries. As our lives rely more on technology and our land becomes urbanized, however, much of our time is spent removed from actual experience of and connection to Nature. We live in colonial homes set on urban blocks, drive to work protected by glass and steel over black asphalt and spend our days inside corporate boxes catching only fleeting glimpses of the outside mediated through windows.
With days spent in an urban landscape, we begin to forget what is so precious about our natural landscape, the seacoast, New Hampshire, and the planet. We become numb to the prospect of development and sprawl. We take for granted the especially beautiful landscape that we have here, and sometimes don't even notice as it disappears.
These images are meant to celebrate our natural heritage. It is my belief that if we pause
to consider – to actually notice – the natural beauty around us, we will cherish it. We will recognize how all aspects of the ecosystem – from the flowers, trees, amphibians to the animals – are interconnected to create a vital home for us. If they thrive, we thrive. We're all interdependent actors requiring clean water, air and food.
With refreshed appreciation of our environment and consideration of our own individual impact upon the Earth, we strive to make improvements in our behavior. Sometimes big things happen in small ways; with a new mindset, recycling programs begin, zoning laws adapt, environmental preservation programs are funded, and votes are cast. Can you imagine the Portsmouth landscape a few centuries ago before colonization? Can you feel the fields and forests that have disappeared from where you stand now? What did this land look like one hundred years ago? Would you find a flock of migratory birds where a building is now? What about one hundred years from now? Will moose still roam the edge of town?*
April 18, 2003
* (Yes, they do now at Pease International Tradeport, formerly the Air Force Base)