"Objectively, of course, the various ecosystems that sustain life on the planet proceed independently of human agency, just as they operated before the hectic ascendancy of Homo sapiens. But it is also true that it is difficult to think of a single such natural system that has not, for better or worse, been substantially modified by human culture (...) It has been happening since the days of Mesopotamia. It is coeval with writing, with the entirety of our social existence. And it is this irreversible modified world, from the polar caps to the equatorial forest, that is all the nature we have."
- Simon Schama in Landscape and Memory
When my parents bought a new house a few years ago, they got everything they (and I) ever wanted. A place right on the beach with a backyard leading right into a forest.
It's everybody’s romantic dream of a life in close connection with nature and the elements. Every morning is akin to meditating, enjoying a morning coffee by the long wooden kitchen table looking out at the early morning sunrise. It's almost begging for a Walden-quote.
I've started making wet plate collodion landscape pictures of the local forest. It's quite a small place, with the ocean on one side, the small town on another and farmland on the remaining two. I know for sure that had they owned this house when I grew up this would have been my playground and I would probably know every tree, gully and hiding place there is.
In one way, a place like this is a place of refuge and peace. A place you can go to un-wind and immense yourself in the sounds and smells of nature. In reality, tough, it's a factory producing wood for profit. A place that is being tightly managed and groomed and in no way left in a natural state, with piles and piles of downed trees lining the dirt roads, waiting to be taking to the mill.
There's a clear conflict between the seemingly innocent natural forest and reality. But actually, the real issue might be with the notion of the natural, untouched nature itself.
The reality is that the majority of Danish land is laid out as farmland with seemingly endless fields growing everything from wheat to corn.
Whatever forest is left has largely been planted, often with non-native species and as mentioned, is used in industrial production. Most of it is privately owned.
That is, by the way, in no way a local phenomenon. If you're in Europe and feel inclined to see some authentic, pristine forest you pretty much have to travel to Poland and Belarus where Białowieża Primeval Forest, one of the last remaining part of primeval European forests, is located.
The point here is that the notion of the untouched landscape is naive by any standard. More than 200 years ago (in the good, old days) there was hardly any forest left in the entire country, a situation that has improved greatly since then. The taming and reduction of the forest started as early as 4.000 BC. when people started growing corn.
It is - in other words - nothing new. I'm intrigued by the idea of natural landscape and the quest for things to be authentic and wild. These pictures are a way for me to explore what is here for us to enjoy.