like this…

staring, appreciating, contemplating, seriously…

“it’s the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity. It covers the entire surface of the globe. endlessly basking in its own glory.”

Nature is a subjective existence. It is a mirror that reflects what human being imposes upon it. Through the lens of the non-human environment/objects, we see the present – the ideologies of the contemporary societies and what’s happening beneath the surface, and the future.

My previous research on the relationship between tourism and nature prompted me to think that nature is a subjective concept that ultimately depends on what our perception of what is “natural”. The “natural landscape” or “natural” wildness that people looked for is inherently constructive. The only things we experience at the “exotic” natural landscapes are their own assumptions of nature, it is the landscape that cannot be witnessed in what we believed as the “unnatural” environment, or our daily life. Our definition of “natural” and “artificial” is a result of our way of living and the context that we are situated in. A blue sky can be seen as a natural spectacle in a heavily polluted city whereas it may be seen as mundane in rural areas.

Let’s travel through time, what if one day, people come all the way to see the sun. The sun, what we are able to see it every day now, become a mystified object in the future, or the “wild and sublime landscape” of that time. At that time, what is reflected in the “mirror”/ nature is that either the city is severely polluted or we are highly alienated and separated from the non-human world. At present, the sun is seen as a mundane object and our narrative about the sun is more as a source of energy etc., but rarely as a “landscape” to be experienced. But in this fictional situation, people experience the view of the sun collectively as a natural landscape, the sun is no longer about these. It is about experiencing the natural spectacle itself, and being aware of our deep-down need to find affiliation with the natural environment.

Collective experience

In tourism, our perceptions of nature are subtly reshaped by how we experience the landscape – in a “spectacle” way. The landscape loses its “aura” – the way we experience it changes the way how we connect to it, how we feel it. Either we are talking about the sun itself or the “artificial” sun, we are talking about the same thing. In the spectacle society, we experienced them in the same way. Our relationship with the non-human environment/objects is highly constructed and defined by the collective experience and collective memories.

“… Objective reality is present on both sides. Each of these seemingly fixed concepts has no other basis that its transformation into its opposites: reality emerges within the spectacle, and the spectacle is real.”

 © 2020 by Qiaoer Jin