The series Secondary Nature examines human interaction with the landscape- the ways that we alter, mediate, engage with and represent it. Through photography I explore the intricate systems that act to limit the destructive natural forces of volcanic landscapes in Japan, Korea, Hawai’i, and the Azores archipelago. These locations share an infrastructure that is, by necessity, conspicuously engineered and endemic to regions that are known for natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, typhoons and tsunamis.
The perspectival structuring of our vision of the natural world, and our assumed control over it, is historically exemplified in the microcosm of the garden. My early research focused on idealized landscapes that were reflective of the garden– highly manipulated and cultivated, alluding to a mediated interaction with the natural world while contextualizing the work within a broader topographical and conceptual framework. More recent images simultaneously reference the manipulation of nature while acknowledging the forces of nature- undersea volcanos creating islands that appear and disappear; precariously fragile ground and shifting lava beds; geothermal vents and pools; controlled burns that attempt to mitigate the risk of wildfires. My current focus has shifted to frame the work through the lens of a rapidly changing climate, highlighting the accelerated pace and impact of rising seas, hurricanes and super typhoons, and devastating wildfires.
Martina Shenal is a Professor of Art in the Photography, Video & Imaging area at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her series Secondary Nature examines human interaction with the landscape- the ways that we alter, mediate, engage with and represent it. For her professional work, she has received grants and fellowships including a Faculty Collaboration Grant for her interdisciplinary project Space + Place from the University of Arizona Confluence Center for Creative Inquiry, a WESTAF/NEA Regional Fellowship, Visual Art Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, two Professional Development Grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and a Contemporary Forum Material Grant from the Phoenix Art Museum. Selected exhibitions have been held at Place M Gallery, Tokyo JP, CICA Museum, Gyeonngi-so, South Korea, Rutgers University, College of Southern Nevada, Whittier College, New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.