David Richards is currently a student at California State University, Fresno pursuing an M.A. Richards’ work focuses primarily on the new interpretation of the contemporary landscape. Confronting society’s idea of beauty within the landscape and attempting to re-evaluate the role that landscapes have played in society. In his most recent work, he discovers artifacts of human presence in the wild in an attempt to help understand the draw of humans “experiencing” the wilderness. His images question where the real beauty in the wild is. Looking at the National Parks as the front line between civilization and the wild where recent advances in urbanization re-interprets the so-called “call of the wild”.
From Savagery to Civilization
Taken from a line in Theodore Roosevelt’s speech Conservation as a National Duty given in 1908 on the state of protecting our natural environment, From Savagery to Civilization is an attempt at understanding the growing relationship between civilization and the wilderness. Looking at spaces within our protected land that exists in both a state of civilization and wildness. The state of our parks is drastically changing—becoming more and more developed. Every year larger crowds travel to National parks around the country to experience the “Wild” but instead spend time in gift shops, food courts, and tent cabins. Our natural landscape has become appropriated in a way that changes our idea of the wild. They contain conveniences like roads, electrical boxes, and pay phones. Instead of focusing on the selective and “picturesque” vistas that seem to idealize and romanticize nature into a spectacle, I chose to focus on the ways in which we have already changed our national parks to accommodate and fulfill the consumer needs of the population that inhabits it.
This series is a comment on the deep tradition of western landscape photography and a re-examination on our relationship to the natural environment. Our National Parks present a direct line between the wilderness and civilization, where we as a society can become spectators of the wild— isolating ourselves from the potential dangers the wilderness may present. We are detaching ourselves from the wilderness, furthering the distance of society to its naturalist tradition. This new reinterpretation of land could prove detrimental to the future of our environment and provide valuable insight to the state of the human existence.
To view more of David’s work please visit his website.