The Human Imprint
February 3-27, 2022
Amos Eno Gallery is proud to announce the opening of The Human Imprint, artist Grant Johnson’s first solo show with the gallery. The photography on view reveals the Earth’s shifting ecosystem in response to human interaction and consumption. As a result of natural resource extraction, unsustainable forestry and farming practices, indigenous ecosystems are being wiped out, resulting in metastasizing swaths of deforested and desertified landscapes as well as the creation of oceanic dead zones – all of which contribute directly to climate instability.
"A fascination with form dominates my work, specifically the interaction of natural and human forces with the landscape," explains Johnson. "I currently use reconnaissance image processing technology to interpret my terrestrial and aerial photographs as large prints showing the big picture of our competitive consumption and the ever increasing signs of irreversible damage to our ecosystem. In 2008, the entire Landsat image collection became public domain, enabling the creation of ultra high resolution satellite image composites that make up many images in this show. Surveying these images from a distance, many have an abstract, non objective quality which transforms upon closer examination.
Ecosystems are being totally lost which evolved over millions of years prior to the advent of humans. This is vitally important because one of the principles of ecology is that complex systems of living and interacting species are immensely more stable than simple systems of, for instance, one or two dominant species living in an impoverished landscape (which is a fair description of what we humans are now creating). In the 19th century and well into the our own era, nature was considered to be a battle for survival of the fittest, a terribly damaging misinterpretation of how nature works, and one that gained its strength from its close ideological fit with unbridled capitalism. This model has joined other discredited ideas about nature like Eugenics. Current scientific exploration and analysis is beginning to reveal the complex symbiosis that occurs in still existing intact ecosystems. Flora and fauna, fungi, microbes, and other naturally occurring life-forms have been interacting for millennia in cooperative and inter-communicating as well as in competitive relationships.
The circular forms of “Burning Man 2013” and the “Crescent Dunes Solar Array,” create such a formal contrast with the evolved landscape that they seem to indicate an alien, unnatural presence. Unfortunately, these are only the tracks and signs of the Human Imprint upon our planet. The Extractive Industry has completely re-contoured Utah topography to create the mile-deep “Bingham Canyon Copper Mine.” Perhaps as we move away from the wholesale destruction that has characterized the Anthropocene, we can embrace a relationship with nature that foregrounds respect and partnership with fellow life forms and with Earth’s natural processes. For, as Grant Johnson notes, “our imprint upon the planet is everywhere. We need to become a part of nature not apart from it.”
Grant Johnson trained as a painter and photographer before entering the field of new media, receiving the first graduate degree in experimental video awarded by the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975. He worked for twenty years as a photographer for The Nature Conservancy covering California and areas of Hawai’i, while simultaneously working in the film and television industry. Recent exhibitions include "Hyper/Reality" (2021) and "Towards a New Animism" (2022) at Amos Eno Gallery “Weather the Weather” at the NY Hall of Science (2019), and “Healing Environments” at Canessa Gallery (2017) among other exhibitions.
Above image: detail from Burning Man 2013 (Grant Johnson)