How do we Shape the Natural World.


Featured image   Burtynsky, Edward. N.d Photograph “Where I Stand: A Behind the Scenes Look at Edward Burtynsky’s Photographic Essay, Water”. Youtube, Uploaded by MongrelTrailers, Published on Sep 4, 2013,, 


How do we shape the natural world Human occupation, impacts and effects?

My first impression of this question makes me think about how everyday actions cause impact to the environment. As a society we have manipulated, shaped and transformed the natural world to suit humanity’s lifestyle. Without even thinking about the consequences and harm we are causing. In most causes humans depleted natural resources that cant be replaced. For example water, forestry, animals and oil.Its come to the extreme where scientist are looking for other earth like planets that human can move to, due to exploiting natural resources on this planet, that it will no longer be suitable for life. This lifestyle is depicted in films and TV shows like, The 100, Wall-E, The Lorax, and many more. Showing the extremes  of resource manipulation and the effects. However there is now becoming huge awareness for environmental issues and people are coming up with innovative solutions to save the planet.

After reading the the 6th chapter in Nicholas Mirzoeff book, How to See the World, he illustrated some interesting ideas about the natural world. ( Mirzoeff, 233) Shows an a painting by George Wesley Bellows called Forty- two Kids ( 1902). This image shows a group of kids swimming in the river. The river is black because during that time, New Yorkers 6 million people pumped all there bodily waste into the water. During this time people aspired to live in a big city, therefor would turn a blind eye to the problem at hand. Mirzoeff also states that till this day, if there is a lot of rain, raw sewage is flushed into the rivers and people know to stay out of the water the next day. In my point of view its disgusting to hear people are living comfortably damaging a natural resource. Water is a resource we need to live. Humans cant go 3 days without water before they die. Its a need.

On the topic of water, Edward Burtynsky’s takes photos of altered landscapes. He is looking at how humans manipulate the world for the resource of water. His images are powerful and thought provoking about the interaction with humans and water. In this project he talks about the importance of water. “That once there is no water in a area, humans have to leave, in order to live.” that water is the ultimate thing for life and we need to treasure that. To use the environment of what we need without exploiting it.

Burtynsky, Edward. N.d Photographs  “Where I Stand: A Behind the Scenes Look at Edward Burtynsky’s Photographic Essay, Water”. Youtube, Uploaded by MongrelTrailers, Published on Sep 4, 2013,, 

Bringing this closer to home. In 2009 New Zealand artist  Rachael Rākena and Dr Brett Graham created an art sculpture to reflect the idea of manipulating water for our benefit. Their project was about the purposeful flooding, to make way for hydro- electric power. They highlight the manipulation and redirection on water ways to build communities. In Maori culture natural resources are very important to the culture. We should look after the environment that provides for us, what are we doing to give back?

Water is just one element of how humans impact on the environment. For my assessment I want to look at the idea of sustainability and potentially fast fashion and waste.

Works cited 
Burtynsky, Edward. “Where I Stand: A Behind the Scenes Look at Edward Burtynsky’s Photographic Essay, Water”. Youtube, Uploaded by MongrelTrailers, Published on Sep 4, 2013,
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Chapter 6, Changing the World”. How to See the World, Pelican, 2015, pp. 220-252.
Rākena, Rachel & Graham, Brett. “Āniwaniwa – a fine arts research project”. Youtube. Uploaded by kengapai Feb 16, 2009.


How the Visual World Communicates with Us.

Visual culture is all around us. Visual art is one aspect of visual culture that I found interesting. I have challenged my perceptions of the world and questioned how women are defined by society. I will be looking at the work of Cindy Sherman.

To have an in-depth analysis of Sherman’s images, we need to consider the time we spend viewing. (Kiplan 1) states to appreciate a work of art we need to take time to look at the finer details. Viewing art for 30 seconds, we only apricate the work at surface level. As an audience, we don’t take the time to create questions and think about why the artist has created these images. I believe it’s important to take the time to analyse the art, to be able to question why they created the artwork and the artist’s ideas. During this time, we allow ourselves to develop our perceptions of the world. The exact time to ensure you understand varies for different people, we all come from diverse backgrounds and experiences in life. It’s subjective for each person.

For example, the image of Sherman’s (Untitled Film Still #2) communicates the idea of feminism and subverting society’s ideals around women. She challenges perceptions on how women are valued in society. Sherman portrays these fictitious characters of old Hollywood actresses. She has done this to create a collective medium, to ensure people can relate to these images and get an understanding. In Nicholas Mirzoeff book, How to See the World, he states something similar. (Mirzoeff 21), believes that the internet is the world’s first collective medium. With this concept of collective communication, Sherman has used characterisation to create her collective medium. This concept redefines the idea that art is only for a selected few. She has neutralised the perspective and makes the work relatable to all types of people. I personally relate to these iconic figures that are depicted in her work. We grow up aspiring to be these women that we look up to. Sherman is illustrating in her image how destructive this can be. The mirror in this photograph symbolises reflection/vanity. Sherman is communicating that women are only valued by their appearance/ reflection. In society’s eyes that’s all you are worth. That we are objects to the gaze. We need to take a step back and reflect about society’s expectations. We don’t need to conform to these ideas to feel a sense of worth. This challenging of my perception on how others value me and the expectations on what women must do to feel accepted. It made me question this need to please society to be accepted, and how destructive that is.


Sherman, Cindy.  Untitled Film Stills #2. 1997-1980. Black and white Photograph.

Sherman labels each image ” untitled”. This is to make the viewer think about her images for themselves, without any preconceived ideas about the piece. Sherman simply alludes to these ideas about feminism in her work, however she does not tell you. It challenges you to create independent thought. That goes against everything, Clark talks about in “Language and Meaning.” (Clark 20, that effective communication is essential to articulate in words a response to visual culture.) People will never react to art in the same way. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. However, I believe that the beauty in the works will resonate with different people and challenge people’s perceptions in different ways. Visual culture is subjective to the viewer. It communicates in a vast variety of ways.

Works Cited
Clarke, Michael. “Language and Meaning.” Verbalising the Visual: Translating Art and Design into Words. Lausanne, Switzerland: AVA Publishing, 2007. 20-27. Print.
Kaplan, Isaac. “How Long Do You Need to Look at a Work of Art to Get it”. Artsy. JAN 26TH, 2017 12:05 AM.
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Introduction”. How to See the World, Pelican, 2015, pp. 5,6,21.
Sherman, Cindy.  Untitled Film Stills #2. 1997-1980. Black and white Photograph.

Cindy Sherman & Photography

At this current point in time I same doing a photography studio at Massey University. So I am really interesting in the techniques and visual elements Cindy Sherman has used to create her works. Here are some of my favorite images from there City Gallery Field trip.


Cindy Sherman | Untitled #414 2003 | Image courtesy: The artist and Metro Pictures, New York | © The artist

This here is picture of a depicted clown in the Clowns series of Sherman’s works. This picture stood out to be with the use of vibrant colour. We see here a more feminine looking clown that is draped in what looks to be a silk embodied coat, she stands out in the center aliened frame with a bright ombre orange backdrop. The camera is positioned on a slight upward angle, as if the clown is looking down at the viewer.Sherman has uses the subject matter of clowns to reference gender. Clowns are one of the few characters that are gender less/ non binary identity. Making the perfect subject matter to highlight the gender expectations on people today. Clowns are allowed  freedom in expression without judgement. I believe this comes from the history of clowns. Clowns are derived from court jesters, they are social outsiders and the only ones who are allowed to poke fun at the king, during that time. Looking at these images made me realise what if we treated everyone with the amount of gender freedom we give clowns. A world without judgement and just pure freedom. To allow people to do what they wish with there lives. I believe its really important to question our world around us, to be able to improve. Using mediums like art, literature and design are useful tools for making messages like Sherman does in her photographs. Continuously question gender roles and identity and personal freedom. Her works make us question and spark curiosity. These are some of the questions I think about. If our word was gender less, or had freedoms like clowns have. What would our world look like? Could we ever become a society the values life and choices on how you want to live it? Could I make change?  Like the famous quote that Emma Watson from her ” He or She speech to the UN. “If not me, who? if not now, when”?


Cindy Sherman Reflection

When I looked at Cindy Sherman’s for the first time, it made me question why she made these images.. In some of her collections her images are all stylized with the same aesthetic. The only difference is the character she is portraying. Why does she do this and what does it mean to me? The importance of this moment was the discovery of what Sherman was communicating through her images and how I interpenetrated this information.


Cindy Sherman’s Head Shots collection original photo

Sherman works communicates ideas about gender and identity, that is defined by our society and how damaging that can be. Her work made me challenge the perception of the world around me. She brings to light that there is huge pressure to conform and become someone you are not, just to please others. She alludes to the “damage” in her images by creating looks/ characters that look imperfect. You can physically see the imperfections in the character from her skin to badly done makeup, awkward positions and ill fitting clothes. You can see in all these characters the desperation and desire to feel accepted. She telling us this is not the way to live your life. However I do feel today’s generation is becoming more aware of these “values” that society whats you to conform to. People are starting to understand you are able to do anything with your life, its in your control. Although as humans we desire and need to feel accepted by our peers. You are still able to define the pressure of conforming. Sherman illustrates in her images that this is what you will become if you keep conforming to these identity set by others. They look desperate and unhappy, who wants to live a life like that?  Sherman’s work helps create awareness to these concepts. As soon as there is an awareness, change/ acceptance soon follows.

Cindy Sherman’s Clowns and Heads shots collection original photo

Cindy Sherman Experience

First Impressions

Featured image Cindy Sherman Untitled #462 2007-08. Colour photograph mounted on aluminium.
Purchased 2011 with funds from Tim Fairfax, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation.
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery. © The artist.

This my first time seeing the famous works of Cindy Sherman. Looking at the large scale images that stood before me, was simply astonishing. How could one women create so many identities? These images towed over our heads, making me feel rather imitated and overpowered by the sheer scale of the works.I turned every corner of the gallery and the imagery would continue, her work covered every wall in The Wellington City Gallery. I stood in the middle of the room and noticed the quite hush of people viewing the art, not allowing there voices go over a loud whisper. As if speaking to loud that it would damage the artistry. People paying close attention to the detail to the pictures to enable themselves to create there own thoughts and perspectives about Cindy’s works. I stood there an wondered what her work meant to me…

The initial interaction of the Cindy Sherman Photographs was a significant experience to me on my field trip. This was my first interaction with her photographs. To be honest I had never herd of her work until the field trip. It was interesting viewing the gallery and works as a true blank canvas and establishing how others  and myself interacted with the work and space.

Nicholas Mirzoeff’s How to See the World.- week 1

Featured image : Hebron, Malcolm. “Nicolas Mirzoeff, How to See the World.” Blogspot, Friday 9 October 2015,

Internet is the first truly collective medium of communication for the world

  • Through the introduction (Mirzoeff 21) communicated the idea that the “Internet is the first truly collective medium in the world”. It made me realize that the world has never had a medium that connected people from all over the world to communicate. Mirzoeff open my eyes to the true reality of what internet can do. That it can bring the world together.(Mirzoeff 5) “In 2012 it was estimated that more than a third had access to the internet…by 2014 its estimated that 3 billion people were online”

There is a fast growing visual culture 

  • The start of this book it emphasized the very fast growing visual culture. Its interesting to know that visual communication is growing at an exponential rate than it ever had before. People have access to more visual content and create visual content easier. This is an example of the visual content growth, ( Mirzoeff 6) ” 100 hours of  YouTube are loaded every minute. Six billion hours of video are watched every month…Americans alone take more images than the entire 19th century…380 billion photographs were taken in 2012…One trillion photographs were taken in 2014. Here you can clearly see the exponential growth rate.

Works cited 

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Introduction”. How to See the World, Pelican, 2015, pp. 5,6,21.

Art &Design

 Ginzburg, Anton. Hyperborea series . 2011, Photograph, Anton Ginzburg,

These images were captured by a New York based, Anton Ginzburg. The images capture a mysterious red smoke over snow. The Series is based on the idea of Hyperborea. In Greek mythology, Hyperboreas were mythical people that lived beyond the north wind. This place was supposed to be perfect, a place with the sun shining 24 hours a day. Ginzburg played with this concept. I like this series of images because they are visually beautiful. Due to the contrast in colour, making the red a focal point in the image. I also like the idea of capturing movement, because the scenery is only like the image for a small period of time before it changes.

Sunny Park, Soo. Unwoven Light. 11 April 2013, Sculpture, Rice Gallery,Houston Texas,

Soo Sunny Park made this installation called Unwoven light. She wanted to convey the idea of a dream like or imaginative space in a actual physical space, that one can physically see and touch. I love this installation design because the space looks almost fluid and seamless, like reflective water. However its made from solid structured materials ( glass and wire). It really transforms the room.


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