The Evolution of Future Perfect: Photographs by Judy Natal

Future Perfect entails a sweep of three peculiarly troubling and evocative sites where human intervention has decidedly affected land use. The Las Vegas Desert Springs Preserve, where convincingly “real” nature was built to teach sustainable living in the desert, Biosphere 2’s experimental tracts, designed as a “mini earth” with five manufactured and manually controlled ecosystems in Oracle, Arizona, and Iceland’s primordial geothermal landscapes, are worlds apart from each other that one could hardly imagine intersecting. The photographs establish unexpected but compelling resonances between these landscapes to distill and display our hopes, perceptions and misunderstandings of nature, and suggest both the potential and pitfalls of our future on earth. They also describe how central nature can be to our lives, and how hopeful and confused we may be in using, recreating, and changing nature. While I envision these areas as indications of our future, they are also touchingly poignant examinations of our current intentions and our limitations.

I often get asked about how my current project Future Perfect originated, how it has evolved since its inception in 2007, why and how I travel to such extreme environments to make this body of work, what I’m reading and why,  how I get access to the sites I photograph, and why I pursue artist residencies.

As I prepare for my fourth trip to Iceland, the question is “Why Iceland?”

Iceland’s geothermal features are portals that provide glimpses of both the primordial beginnings of the earth (particularly with recent volcanic activity), and the future of the earth if we continue on our present projectory of global warming and unmitigated use of natural resources-no trees, melting glaciers, serious soil erosion. It is both Eden and Purgatory revealed at one and the same time. Due to its tiny population of 320,000, small footprints of built environments, and spectacular BIG NATURE, the skin of the earth is clearly revealed, tissue exposed, every scar and gash visible, and the breath and blood of the earth is visceral in the land, sea, and sky. It is a perfect place to witness both the endoskeleton and exoskeleton of earth.

I invite you to join me as I explore ideas and visually contemplate what the landscapes of the future might look like, how and where we might live, and ultimately, what we might look like. I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions.

More to come from Iceland…

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