Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County, NY, October 15, 2016. 5-minute clip from 24-hour moving picture.
Long-take moving pictures shot in wilderness preserves across North America. Each picture is 24 hours long, capturing a day and a night in the life of a wild place.
Shot in a single take on a stationary digital cinema camera, these pictures are meant to be exhibited on large ultra-high-definition screens with immersive sound systems.
In this work, I am interested in the traditions of Western landscape painting and photography, and how they are symptomatic of ideologies that were prevalent in the societies that produced them. If, for example, we understand the paintings of the Hudson River School and the frontier photographs of Carlton Watkins and his peers as expressions of the idea of manifest destiny, what kinds of landscape images might flow from the ideology of environmentalism in an age of climate change and mass extinction, as we come to realize that even the wildest places are being transformed by human impact.
I am also thinking about the increasingly fuzzy boundary between reality and representation, particularly with the rise of technologies like first-person-shooter games and weaponized drones. I’m interested in simulations of nature that seem real, and in representations of landscape that trouble the status of nature as something that exists beyond culture. In an age of virtual reality and inescapable human impact, is nature as real as it used to be? And how could we use technologies of simulation (including relatively straightforward ones, like video) to preserve the experience of a vanishing wilderness?
Over the past couple of years, I've scouted locations and recorded short “sketches” at wilderness preserves in Alabama, Indiana, Florida and Minnesota. Here are a couple of the sketches:
Griffy Lake Preserve, Monroe County, Indiana, July 4, 2015 (sketch), 4K video, 15:57.
Sweet Water Strand, Collier County, Florida, October 4, 2015 (sketch), 4K video, 3:54.
In the press
Hyperallergic: "A video projection focused on a single woodland scene for 24 hours shows undulating patterns of light formed by shadows of the trees. A leaf meanders its way to the ground; an insect buzzes by. A small pool of water shimmers and trickles, but not much else happens. When we come upon a scene like this in nature, we might stop for a photo, perhaps force ourselves to meditate for a moment, searching for peace and a spiritual connection, before quickly moving on. Mark Tribe’s “Balsam Lake Mountain Wild Forest, Ulster County, New York,” from the series New Nature (2016–17), allows us to linger more than we might in the wild, where fellow hikers, inclement weather, or mosquitoes compel us to be on our way. It allows us to enjoy the scene. According to a wall text accompanying this piece, we are more likely to experience nature on a digital screen than in an immersive setting. “In an age of virtual reality and inescapable human impact, is nature as real as it used to be?” asks Tribe. “And how could we use technologies of simulation (including relatively straightforward ones, like video) to preserve the experience of a vanishing wilderness?” By providing a voyeuristic view, the artist awakens us to a primal urge to get outside, to smell the moss, to feel the ferns and rocks, to listen to the water." Ilene Dube, "Artists Urge Us to Get Outside and Smell the Moss"