By Danielle Kalamaras
Artist Anna Fine Foer finds inspiration from the landscapes of the world, only to transform the forms and undulating curves of the everyday into mixed-media collages. Her landscapes offer points of views both realistic and fantastical as she intermixes into a photo-real scene ephemeral objects that mimic the lines of the landscapes. Nokia phones mirror the ancient aqueducts of Ancient Rome, with both objects curiously existing in tandem as historical markers to moments in our past. As the artists states, "My artwork is map collage that offers the viewer a combination of imaginary landscapes with mystical, biblical, scientific, and ecological themes." Foer's artworks are maps that explore the world not as it appears, but as a place built from multiple layers through time, personalized through individual experiences and knowledge of the past.
Read on for an interview with the artist that expounds on her scientific inspirations, what she thinks is so "Un-Natural" about nature today, and what "SciArt" means in regards to her work.
DK: What most inspires you about the natural-and artificial-world?
AF: My art work is primarily landscapes made of map collage. Maps that I incorporate into collages may be part of regional, geographic or geological narratives. There is more than one story a map can convey. My work also has more than one story to tell. I may be both trying describe the curve of the earth on a flat piece of paper and using maps to blur boundaries between the natural and the manufactured/technological world.
Even my choice of materials reflects the dichotomy between the natural and the manufactured world; and is one of the central themes; consistently revealed in my work, a map is a man made, abstracted representation of the geographic, natural world. We accept a map to be a representation of a physical place.
What is so 'Un-Natural' about nature today?
I explore the contrast between a map and the actual, physical land and use maps to represent at the same time, land, sky, water and architecture. As humans, we have inserted ourselves on the landscape for thousands and thousands of years.
Often, those intrusions onto and into the landscape I see as ironic and inspire ideas for collages. For example, there are now cell phone towers that are made to look like trees, with plastic limbs. They are even customized to resemble trees native to particular regions. Farmers, who can no longer earn enough by growing crops have resorted to erecting cell phone towers on their land as a source of income.
Our technological devices, that on one hand, are so useful when we want to research something and connect us to the world, are on the other hand, dis-connecting us. So much so, that people no longer need to understand how to find their way, their device will lead them. This is illustrated in my collage “GPS: Globally Positioned Sheep”.
“New York Without Us” is about the geological formations under Manhattan. It shows that there is natural terrain under the built environment. It was inspired by the book “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman.
What does "SciArt" mean to you?
Much of my work is inspired by scientific and mathematical concepts; including fractals and the Golden Mean, geological formations, meterological phenomenon such as hurricanes, earthquakes, a tsunami and a derecho. I made collages about solar and wind power and bio-fuel. A recent collage incorporated images of the first published “map” of
a complete human genome (a scientist and friend gave me the map that was published in the journal Nature). Another, recent collage is based on one of Einstein’s Thought Experiments in Central Park.
An idea, that is in the planning stage at the time of this writing, is about sending messages via smoke signals that I will interpret with collaged images of neurons, based on the idea of “firing” neurons. Science is one of the main catalysts for my work and I welcome the opportunity to share, collaborate and cross pollinate with other artists who have a similar muse. Equally, important, I want to continue to learn from and be inspired by scientists. There is a dialogue between science and art and it is not clear which discipline is more prescient.
Visit Anna Fine Foer's website to learn more about his artwork.
Click here to view the online exhibition "Un-Natural Nature" which features the artwork of 30 SciArt Center Members.