Beyond the Oecumene
Everywhere on Earth, human development has caused significant changes to nature and the climate. Concerns over global temperature rise, warming oceans, glacial retreat, sea level rise and ocean acidification, are just some of the well-established fundamental issues we, as humanity, are facing. Therefore, geography must be conceived in relation to humans. It is not merely a description of the Earth, rather it accounts for the history of man’s relationship with it, of our movements on its surface, and our transformative impact on the world. Beyond the Oecumene reflects on the concept of anthropogeography (the study of the geographical distribution of humankind and the relationship between human beings and their environment). However, the works in the series remove any portrayal of humankind’s prevalence as it looks beyond, or more importantly - prior to - domination of civilisation. Thus, the visual abstractions are reimaginations of a world where nature reigns supreme; in which the untouched, the unspoiled and the purity of nature prevails.
Continuing the modes of practice of Atlas Obscura (2019) - where each work has a digital counterpart - image-editing software is used to create digitally generated impressions that are superimposed onto a selection of sampled images, which - in turn - leads to the creation of an abstracted visual composition printed on aluminium, mirror Dibond or on canvas. The process is then completed by hand-drawn motifs in wax pastels and / or aquarelle to further illustrate an atmospheric realm with ethereal elements. References alluding to nature and landscape draws the viewer in through a feeling of recognition. However, with several works in this series, the viewer must confront the illusory feature of the structured Plexiglas positioned on the surface of the work, which generates an optical distortion. This ‘screen’ becomes a metaphorical emblem (for the computer or mobile phone screen), and which alludes to the current age of technological advancement and how we, as a society, depend on technology to view the world around / beyond us. This grants the viewer a moment to pause and observe as the pictorial elements gradually emerge and to reorient themselves to a visual narrative where both the real and unreal coalesce.
As a side note: The oecumene (Greek: οἰκουμένη, oikouménē, lit. "inhabited") was an ancient Greek term for the known, the inhabited, or the habitable world. Under the Roman Empire, it came to refer to civilisation as well as the secular and religious imperial administration. In present usage, it is most often used in the context of "ecumenical" and describes the Christian Church as a unified whole, or the unified modern world civilisation. Additionally, it is also used in cartography to describe a type of world map used in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.