In these past few weeks we have been deep diving in the topic of media and the environment and the negative effects our modern technology and manufacturing processes have on earth. We started our journey in none other than the Nuuksio natural forest picking mushrooms and especially looking for a specific one called Matsutake. The Matsutake flourishes on forest areas where trees have been cut or are largely populated by us humans. We didn’t find any on our field trip although the surrounding area that we wandered around has been known to produce these treats.
During the recent pandemic the natural parks and recreational areas around the metropolitan area of Helsinki have been in heavy use. Since the pandemic locked most of us inside to work and do home schooling, going out to enjoy the woods with a safe distance has been on the rise. I spent my childhood with a direct access to the woods from my backyard. Since making my move to the capital area I didn’t really think too much about it in recent years until realising that I need to travel quite a while to reach some decent forest area from my home during the pandemic. This lead me making a few trips back to my home town during the pandemic to do remote work and enjoy the luxury of mostly empty forest areas of the west coast.
In a recent article in Helsingin Sanomat a crew of journalists went around Helsinki with a guide to explore some hidden gems of untouched or reserved nature areas that might not be that well known with the general public. The article states that even in these mostly unknown areas the risen interest in outdoors activities has left its marks. The moss has mostly disappeared from the rocks and the roots have been revealed under the ground. Our active use of these areas puts these fragile pieces of land in jeopardy of losing its natural habitants and vegetation. So nurturing and respecting these areas as how they are is crucial. In the final conclusions of the article my attention was caught in with the sentence – “In the future untouched nature might be something that we need to explore from behind a rope like in a museum.” A terrible thought.
When trying to find positive thoughts about the material that we have been watching and learning about is tough. Our utilisation of the earth as an endless source of energy and materials doesn’t seem to have a limit. One of the most breathtaking material was from areas which have been through a heavy chemical process in trying to harvest or refine minerals for new electronic devices or batteries. The scale of our footprint is quite literally shown in these sites which are left behind too dangerous to access even with proper safety equipment years later. Talking about these topics at the class has been very interesting although it can leave a feeling of hopelessness very easily for an individual.
Main thoughts and action points that have risen for me during the course have been mostly about how much energy is wasted with us taking it for granted. I am interested in old technology in my art practices and that has led me to investigate the possibilities of the ease of repair and maintenance of old equipment more thoroughly. The good news has been that EU has raised this issue. Hopefully in the future new technology will be designed and manufactured in such way that it can be maintained and recycled better. Other interesting topic was the introduction to crypto currencies and new ways of getting your digital work distributed. Seeing how many artists joined the first NFT movement made me hope for a new alternative for making a living as an artist. Although after having the discussion in the class made me hold back for a second and investigate more in hopes for a more sustainable option. The search that still continues.