Beyond the Postcard: an Ecocritical Inquiry on Images of Nature

xtro realm / Climate Imaginary Reader

Contemplations of nature continue to be dominated by “factfulness-organizing” Western notions of modernity – in other words, scientificity, infinite development and capitalism’s unrelenting urge to grow. As nature takes form in the Enlightenment’s worldview and becomes the culturally passive subject of humankind’s actions, it is relegated to providing data for human knowledge, resources for the economy, and aesthetic services for the consumer. These notions allow us to unpack the social and climate imaginaries in relation to nature as well as the climate and ecological crises, respectively. The concept of a landscape is a symptomatic domain where these relations intersect, as a European person’s relation to nature can be traced through how their interpretation of a landscape is constructed.

Contemporary ecological thought emphasizes the reciprocal interlacement of actors within an ecosystem in which nature forms a relationship with culture and these mutually shape the life of the Earth. Ecocriticism1 scrutinizes the interoperability and interaction of these spheres in a transdisciplinary manner: what humans think of nature, with what forms of action we form links to it, and how this is reflected in the way it is discussed. Furthermore, an ecocritical assessment offers insight into our modes of social organization based on the image we hold of nature. We need to rethink the concept of nature as determined by modernism to confront the ecological and climate catastrophe. Taking an ecocritical approach in assessing the landscape surrounding us can provide reference points to this end.

The Copernican System. Image taken from Atlas Coelestis. Harmonia Macrocosmica seu Atlas Universalis et novus totius universi creati Cosmographiam generalem et novam exhibens Originally published in Amstelodami : Apud J. Janssonium 1660. BRITISH LIBRARY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRAR
https://www.sciencephoto.com/media/552155/view Y

“The world is made for man, not man for the world”2

Organicism, prevalent until the 16th century, imagined the parts of the body, the self, the community, the state, and the cosmos as a cooperative, closely-knit organism reliant on reciprocity3. This is where ecological thought’s central tenet originates, as does its focus on networks. On the one hand, (Mother) nature takes care of the World and the humans within by nourishing and accommodating. On the other hand, it manifests the looming threat towering over everything else, conveying its anger (if necessary) through natural disasters, for instance. Deity’s all-encompassing will has been at the centre of Judeo-Christian thought in the form of natural laws4. The will of God as manifest in nature has provided an example and normative code for society. It is no coincidence that far-right ideologies continue to refer to the deterministic laws of nature as unquestionable truths,5 especially in cases of exclusion based on othering6. The scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment, the abandonment of the geocentric model,7 the mechanistic worldview8 and, later, Cartesian philosophy9 all shaped the emergence of a novel view of nature during the 17th and 18th centuries. The scientific revolution changed the organicist understanding of nature – emphasizing its ability to nourish – into an interpretation enabling its exploitation. Nature’s wildness provided the symbolic legitimation for alterations,10 peaking in the geoengineering projects of ecomodernism which insist on the harmlessness of technological innovation. Modern man could become an omnipotent deity in the world that he envisioned. In the name of endless development and accumulation, mankind consumes a subordinated nature as well as the reproductive forces of life and humanity11 (including women, ethnic groups, minorities, and indigenous nations, to which Ariel Salleh collectively refers as a metaindustrial class). This act of growth paired with exploitation, however, entirely neglects the regenerative cycles of nature and the depletable nature of materiality12.

An organicist vision of nature which relied on the premodern analogic (networked) way of thinking shifted to a mechanistic vision, a deductive methodology where complex observations were broken down into independent components – erecting boundaries based on processes and disciplines – whose causal relations were assessed by an (objective) mind. According to this approach, the external world, as well as the human body, is a machine that operates in a clockwork-like manner – something that is illustrated by the principles and practices upheld by modern medicine, for example. Dualisms such as mind and body, individual and society, and human and nature shape the way the world is interpreted, substituting the analogic reasoning which emphasizes connections. Faith in this form of scientific knowledge which continues to be the dominant paradigm is rooted in Cartesian philosophy and the worldview that has developed from it. The historiography of natural sciences has taken over the role of the philosophy of nature. Gathered knowledge about nature has provided the necessary momentum for the modern project of conquering the universe.Initially, the Enlightenment’s mechanistic worldview was the object of abstract philosophical speculation, but it later came to be embodied in scientific programs and consummated in the modern social relations which were configured by the industrial and bourgeois revolutions. The new form of society and the economic system that emerged based its idea of freedom on the exploitation of nature, labor, and women. Exploitation – based on the othering of nature – is also the precondition for human freedom as well: “[…] human freedom is existentially [connected to] the city, society, science and work, for by this freedom man is finally freed from the power of nature and as an object he can use and subjugate it.”13

The Landscape as Instant Nature

The social construction of a landscape indirectly reflects the totality of our ideas regarding the non-human world. If we unpack how these perspectives are constructed we can unveil a reflection of prevalent social relations. A landscape is more than a piece of nature. It is a mode of experiencing the external world as determined by its historical setting and the effect that modernist ideology weighs on its viewer. A landscape reflects how certain social classes define themselves via their relation to nature and how they communicate their role in the external natural and social environment14. It presents and represents the natural and socio-cultural factors that have shaped the given space15. A landscape is therefore a social product, the historiography of which is disclosable. It is not untouched nature free from human intervention, a perspective with which it is frequently confused.



The Claude mirror was the Instagram filter of the 18th century. The reflection of the landscape is composed in the tiny black mirror, taking on dark green hues, comfortable for an English person’s eyes. It was typical of a Claude Lorraine as one turns their back to the scape.
1. Claude Lorrain mirror in a fish leather case, unknown creator, Europe, 1801-1820. Science Museum Group Collection. London © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum.
2. William Gilpin: Tintern Abbey. Reproduction from the Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales, &c, relative chiefly to picturesque beauty publication, created during the summer of 1770. London: R. Blamire-nek nyomtatva, 1792. Source: https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/144575/mirror.html

The visual representation of a landscape, defined by the dualities of subjective-objective, inner-outer, society-individual, etc., since its onset, can have an even more limited meaning if we consider the historical categories of beauty, majesty, and picturesqueness in the landscape painting of the 18th century. A landscape is, however, not limited to the painted picture but incorporates perception and mental framing, just as an individual’s site molds a given slice of the Earth into a single entity, conveying it to their consciousness (see: Szép kilátás!)16. The observations of an individual presuppose an external position – think of the single vanishing point in a central perspective17 from which all lines lead into infinity – establishing emotional and aesthetic distance as well as the control that impede one’s ability to raise moral and practical considerations when contemplating. The artist within the spectator is the subject of the landscape; they have total control over the object, a position unperturbed by the collective socio-historical experience or the agency of nature and of those within the landscape. Through this act of contemplation, the individual transposes their objectified and ideology-driven vision of nature onto the landscape, turning it into nature’s dominant reality18.

The modern eye has been trained to detach one totally from nature, enabling the exclusive dominance of science’s objective, rational, mechanistic, and classification-oriented methods19. The individual detaches from the landscape; humanity detaches from nature. On the other hand, for those in the landscape – frequently laboring – nature is not objectified or detached; it does not take the form of a landscape (or its image) since it is not merely the background to their lives but something that shapes their existence. For those in the landscape, it is not the space where their struggles and victories (that is, their lives) take place, but the screen that hides these from the spectators.

Peasants’ cooperative use of land, designed to be self-sustainable during feudalism, was substituted by capitalism’s objective to subjugate production for the accumulation of profits. This paved the way for the wider transformation and destruction of the environment, recursively shaping the image of nature. The environment-destroying industrialisation of agriculture was perfected through the export of the Green Revolution from central to peripheral countries,20 beginning in the 1960s and1970s. Nonetheless, the value of land in capitalism is not only based on the quality of production it enables, but the exchange value it represents as property (see, for example, the normative area-based system of the unjust and environmentally destructive distribution of EU agricultural subsidies).

Photography played a key role in the landscape becoming a commodity which can be possessed. Landscape photography initially sought to achieve the objectives defined by landscape painting, namely to eliminate distortions that interfered with the linear central perspective of the lens’ image-creating process. Landscape photography thus consolidated the original ambitions of landscape painting: the neutrality of technology allowed one to show an empirical and scientific picture of an externalised, objective outer world. The overwhelming number of images produced by growing tourism has contributed to one’s ability to search for interconnections. This is something that Susan Sontag had already written about in 1977, before the abundance of digital images. She argued that photography certifies experience at the cost the experience being degraded to a picture, a souvenir. Photography alleviates the feeling of lostness which accompanies travel, domesticating it,21 since it turns an encounter with the unknown into a framed object of an external perspective. The landscape frequently reinforces our stereotypes: consider the image of a giraffe or a baobab in front of a setting sun which has most commonly illustrated the African continent in mainstream culture. What traditions and objectives lurk behind these modes of depiction and how can we share more complex and true stories about landscapes and nature?

The Ecocritical Lens through Hungarian Examples

I organised three field trips to explore how to implement ecocriticism in practice as a part of the xtro realm22 event series during the spring of 2018. We visited different landscapes which embodied various powerful forms of human-led transformation. Based on these, we could discuss dominant images of nature held by society. I relied on the methodology of ecocriticism, which explores the presence of culturally inscribed topoi primarily manifest in cultural products but representative of deeper structures23.

Gánt – an Apocalyptic Martian Landscape

The mine in Gánt had played a substantial role in global bauxite production but its activities were suspended nearly 30 years ago. One of the open pits of the mine was left intact and visitors can study ancient karst on a nature trail and explore the underground museum. Opposite the latter, on the other side of Bányatelep Street, the waste-heap is one of fifteen thousand landscape scars in Hungary which have resulted from mining or other forms of anthropogenic intervention in the landscape. Thanks to the recultivation of the mine, the granular pulverized rock has formed into unique, gravitating hills with wavy surfaces, which vegetation (and off-road motorcyclists) is beginning to reclaim with mixed results. A braggadocio media continuously compares the strip mine at Gánt to a Mars landscape. To further support this absurd comparison, the mine pit of Gánt was used by developers of the Hunveyor-4 space probe launched for Mars to provide an aesthetic background for their test runs.

György Hudoba in the Gánt bauxite mine with the Hunveyor-4 test space probe. Circumstances are Mars-like. (Photo: József Balaton) Source: https://www.feol.hu/hirek/magyar-ureszkozok-a-mars-expedicio-modellezeseben-1515922/

The most powerful master-metaphor infecting thinking about the environment and actions taken in its defense is the apocalyptic topos linked to its pollution and destruction24. Humans have always fantasized about the end of the world and the extinction of our species – an important legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The narrative of apocalypse has, however, become environmental protection’s master-metaphor, because it tends to overly emphasize the absolute impact of toxic pollution. For example, in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, she illustrates the impact of carcinogenic DDT pollution through an image of spring without the chirping of a single bird25. Therefore, the apocalyptic dystopia conveys fatal agony, irreversible change. Aestheticized images of such destruction have also become the objects of art26. Wandering between the red hills of Gánt, it is clear that we are seeing the strongest example of how nature is exploited but we still experience a feeling of guilty grandiosity. This field trip to a post-apocalyptic landscape prompted participants to generate a number of Instagram posts with which – to invoke Sontag – they involuntarily sought to defend themselves against their mixed feelings in response to their loss of control over nature.

In Edmund Burke’s description, sublime means the incomprehensible, frightening, and beautiful totality of an unexpected, infinite, and thrilling nature27. The sublime of Romanticism is thus the continued existence of godly forces in (an untouched) nature which, through the metaphysical, affects the emotions of the spectator. When the economy substituted nature, the Romantics invented the idea of an untouched, wild nature as the last resort for a morality based on unalienable labor in a capitalist world (see, for example, Thoreau’s attempt to escape to Walden). The idea of wilderness surfaced as a critique of the industrial revolution, but this act has become an exodus from the exploration of causes and societal relevance under the slogan of “back to nature”, thereby externalizing morality.

It is an unusual twist that the grandiosity of the Gánt landscape is a result of the total destruction of nature, the extermination of life. Turner, the Romantic painter from the beginning of Industrialism, could see and depict the new towns of the industrial revolution as sublime, similarly to how the supranatural refractions of light due to smog above the River Thames in London left Claude Monet awestruck and led him to return for three years and paint more than one hundred paintings of the Victorian “fog”. The grandiosity of destruction has become a new sort of commodity in the age of 21st century greenwashing (see, for example, designer Stella McCartney’s campaign). The toxic sublime refers to how photography, film, and other artistic media try to convey environmental problems from a very strong aesthetic position. This prevents the space from influencing moral, political, consumerist, and personal identities; thus, its ability to mobilize dissipates28.

Xtro realm field trip at the bauxite mine on March 25, 2018. Phot: Anna Hoóz

Media convey the threat of ecological and climate crisis as an emotionally charged apocalyptic catastrophe, leading to the polarized reception of news, and prompting a strong denial from sceptics. Fine art also continuously aestheticizes environmental problems, appropriating them through a majestic toxic filter. Such a reductive rhetoric is counterproductive because it hides the structures that linger behind destruction. Therefore, it is paramount that both the media and artists utilize the effects of representation more consciously and add action-prompting documentary modes of depiction to their pallet, backgrounding emotional-attentional shock29.

Fülöpháza – the Reservation of Bucolic Nostalgia

Our second destination were the dunes at Fülöpháza. We visited the Hungarian identity-defining Great Plain landscape on the day before the 2018 National Assembly elections. The sandy earth of the Duna–Tisza Köze region forced those living in the area to use the land in a colorful manner: agriculture was characterized by free-range stock rearing, leading to the formation of farms. Our excursion began with the Garmada nature trail, cutting across the National Biosphere Reservation’s territory. Open sandplain grasslands, juniper, and white poplars are interspersed throughout the dunes. It took many attempts to halt the sand drift, which the stations of the trail document. A network of channels were created to divert inland water which resulted in the salinization of the earth. Thus, the Kiskunság plain is partially the result of humans’ management of the environment, the management of water flows, predated by the deforestation of the sandy forest steppe’s original plantation during the era of the Turkish invasions. The migration of sand was later halted when nonnative trees were planted. It is unsurprising that the foreign acacia and black pine forests interrupt the natural vegetation cover. What is seen as natural and an ecologically healthy landscape has taken its current form as a result of continuous human intervention.

1. The participants of the xtro realm field trip visit the migrating sand dunes of Fülöpháza on April 7, 2018. Photo: Anna Zilahi

A lively tourism started in the region after World War I. This tourism explored the plains’ peasant culture, as opposed to the landscape. This was Romanticism’s attempt to follow folk culture in its endeavour to unpack the nation’s mythology. “Infinite landscape, desert, treeless flatlands, drifting sand and small marshes, shepherds leading their animals here and there; bandits, gypsies migrating through it: this is the Western person’s traditional idea of the Hungarian plain”30. It is especially interesting that, in the plain’s case, the Western European value judgement of Hungarians paradoxically met in time and ideological content with a Hungarian national identity which was taking shape. The peasants of the plains, who lived and breathed with the land, offered a reminiscence of the romanticized image of unity with nature that had been lost to modernization. The plains, the bucolic topos of rural peasant life, colored our sand dune field trip. This pastoral motif nostalgically turns to an imagined ideal of a past rural life, contrasting it with the urbanized, alienated lifestyle of civilization31.

After the hiatus of socialism, the regime change brought about an increase in Great Plain tourism with the rise of interest from foreign groups. They consumed Hungarian plain culture through the essentialist tavern-gulash-palinka trinity. I also partook in such excursions towards the end of the 1990s when I hosted representative cultural field trips for exchange students from abroad. This industry has been in decline lately and attention has been rediverted to natural treasures; thus, the two migrating sand dunes bordering Fülöpháza attract visitors now. Most of the farms face depopulation. The Kiskunság National Park we explored had been functioning as a military drill ground since 1945 but became a protected area in 1975. This is when the emphasis definitively shifted from peasant culture to natural endowments as the main attraction.

The myth of a nurturing earth manifested during our trip through spontaneous morel-picking. While we found a contradictory topos of untouched nature in a nature reserve which has taken its current form due to continuous human intervention, we also found the symbolic unity of humans and their environment, culture and nature in the plains.

Kékes Forest Reservation – the Distant Wilderness

The final destination of the ecocritical field trip series was Hungary’s only ancient forest, the Kékes Forest Reserve. Natural landscapes have typically been preserved in higher mountains throughout Europe, but as there are only a few of these in Hungary, these few acres are among the limited domestic locations which ecology classifies as natural. Any logging or intrusion committed during the 20th century has permanently destabilized the original natural relations in these forests because the regenerative capacities of a forest’s ecosphere are very slow (by comparison with the sand dunes, for instance).

Vegetation Heritage of Hungary’s (MÉTA) stunning figures demonstrate to how little space the above-described untouchable landscape has been confined: “only 0.6% of the country’s area is covered by vegetation that can be categorized as natural, an additional 5.6% is near-natural, 8.1% has deteriorated and a further 3.0% has significantly deteriorated”32. The data cited above assesses the country’s entire area, but how does this relate to forests? To meet the criteria of naturalness, locations have to sustain a combination of native dominant and mixed tree species, vertical and horizontal differentiation, variegated canopy closure, the presence of sunlight-rich openings, old tree stocks, standing and fallen snags, the presence of seedlings, the mosaic-like organisation of living spaces, etc., all underscoring how different the landscapes under environmental protection are from the homogeneously structured sylvicultures33.

In the Kékes Reserve during the xtro realm field trip on April 22, 2018, Earth Day. Photo: Péter Pettendi-Szabó

The Kékes Reserve has sustained its original intervention-free state because it was a ducal hunting range and because logging would be exceptionally challenging on its steep slopes. The tourists who visit the reserve can experience something wild and untouched, a conserved landscape free from civilization – one that we know from 18th century accounts. It is not the aesthetic services of natural habitats that makes them valuable but their ability to maintain the high levels of biodiversity of which sylvicultures are not capable. In contrast to environmental protection, which seeks to decrease human intervention and pollution in order to improve living conditions, nature protection plays a focal role in sustaining biodiversity. The topos of wilderness symbolizes the human mind’s opposition to – and defeat by – the original, pure mind. Being untouched carries the false promise of authenticity: something can only be natural if it is outside human influence. Meanwhile, it is worthwhile to note just how illusory the untouched state is, since the sustainment of reserves is reliant on humans. Not to mention that, at the highest levels, humanity’s impact already permeates everything; the atmosphere is affected by humans, climatic relations are shaped by human actions, and traces can be found in rocks. This is the root of the anthropocene discourse. The impossibility of an untouched nature is the ecological and climate crisis.

Participants of the field trip also reflected on how the experience of wilderness as tourists is based on the leisurely consumption-based practice enabled by the structure of industrial production and consumption responsible for the climate and ecological catastrophe. An urban lifestyle may offer society the promise of well-being, but its intensive use of nature continues to alienate the non-human world which modernity externalized. In this promise, the leisure time that we spend consuming is interpreted as the polar opposite of labor. In this way the excursion becomes an aesthetic-psychological consumption of nature and contributes to individual well-being. The existence of the reserve provides a false illusion that there is an authentic nature somewhere far away; thus, we can continue with our daily lives in our urban civilization which relies on the exploitation of nature.

To equip ourselves with agency in the fight against the ecological and climate crisis, we need to examine the origins of our concept of nature which was shaped by the compulsion of power in modernity, techno-scientific development, and the growth structures of capitalism. In this essay, I have attempted to outline the origin of our concept of nature in use and how we can analyze the ideological determination of nature with the help of an ecocritical landscape analysis. The construction of the landscape is not only a shield from reality – it not only substitutes direct experience – but also functions as the validation of dominant reality interpretations. Similarly to how the peasants laboring in the field were frequently erased from 18th century English landscapes made for the bourgeoisie,34 we block the uniquely interwoven power relations of the social, economic, and ecological spheres prevalent in petrocapitalism from our images of nature35. During the field trips we sought the local peculiarities hidden behind the master-metaphors representing nature. The aim of this was to convey that nature is not an external world which is merely the background to human life. It is not only a resource which provides material for the unending development of the economy and society. And it is not a nice view that provides an aesthetic service for the well-being of humans. The image of a landscape is always formed by complex human and non-human intervention and there is no such thing as untouched nature. Human activity has an impact on every element of nature, as all spheres of human existence are reliant on it. The grandiose promise of modernity that humanity can step onto a path of infinite growth by subjugating nature is merely a pompous illusion. How could we think otherwise in the midst of a pandemic?


Translated by John Szabo.


Rita Süveges is a Hungarian artist, currently enrolled in the postgraduate program of HUFA. Her art practice is driven by theoretical research about the ecological and climate crisis. Feminist ecocriticism shapes her works: she studies the interconnections of ecosystem actors, the relations of nature and culture based on the critique of growth and technological development. As a member of xtro realm artist group she organized a multitude of programs (reading circles, exhibitions, talks, field trips etc.) dealing with new-realist and ecological theories that critique the anthropocentrism of contemporary thought.


The Climate Imaginary Reader is edited by the members of xtro realm artist group, Rita Süveges and Anna Zilahi, editor of visual material is Gideon Horváth.


Climate Imaginary Reader

Preface – by Anna Zilahi
The World as Contingent Space – by Anna Zilahi
The Politics of Susceptibility – by Héla Hecker
Climate Change, COVID-19, and the Space Cabin: A Politics of Care in the Shadow of Space Colonization – by Réka Patrícia Gál
Between Two Giants: Materialism and the Social Imaginary in the Energy (Transitions) of Hungary – by John Szabo
Beyond the Postcard: an Ecocritical Inquiry on Images of Nature – by Rita Süveges
The Long March through Social Imagination – by Márk Losoncz


Notes:

1 Ecocriticism generally explores the representation of nature. It is believed to have surfaced in the 1990s, though rooted in the international green movements of the 1960s and 1970s. It conducts research on the various fields of culture and arts (for example, literature, painting, motion pictures) but also pursues the critical assessment of commercials, television and radio programs – even the forms that zoos and parks take. The main questions it tackles are how nature is represented in various texts and what images these representations insinuate and produce about nature, how nature’s representation shapes concrete, physical environments, and in what relation human language and non-human environments stand (or the human and non-human worlds in general). It also raises broader ontological questions, such as what humans are and what nature is. Greg Garrard provides the following definition in his work Ecocriticism: “the study of the relationship of the human and the non-human throughout human cultural history and entailing critical analysis of the term ‘human’ itself.” Source: Greg Garrard cited in András Benke et al., “Öko-fogalomtár [Eco-notions],” A Szem, May 30, 2017, Accessed: 12.04. https://aszem.info/2017/05/oko-fogalomtar/2018.

2 Francis Bacon cited by Donald Worster, Nature’s Economy (Cambridge U. Press, 1977), 30.

3 Carolyne Merchant, The Death of Nature – Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (Harper & Row. 1983), 69.

4 Natural laws state that God’s will controls the spheres of existence. All existing entities have an obligation to subjugate themselves to this power. Source: György Kampis et al., “Előadások a természetfilozófia történetéből [Lectures from the history of natural sciences],” Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 2012, http://www.eltereader.hu/kiadvanyok/eloadasok-a-termeszetfilozofia-tortenetebol/. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

5 See, for example, the Blood and Soil (Blut und Boden) movement which was formed in the 1920s based on the völisch-nationalist ideas taking shape from the middle of the 19th century. Naturalist visions assuming the sustainment of national communities were at its centre – a sort of nature-based and biological determinism, a dependence on nature and existential integration. According to this, the nation gathers its main impulses and sustaining powers from ecological relations. Thereby the health of the nation was linked to the health of these relations. Rootedness referred to the intrinsic unity of the material and spiritual which connected nation-organicism and nature. A nation’s fundamental natural qualities became ethnic descriptors.

M. Bassin, “Blood or Soil? The Volkisch Movement, the Nazis, and the Legacy of Geopolitik,” in How Green were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich, ed. Franz-Josef Bruggemeier et al. (Ohio University Press, 2005) 204-242.

6 “Conventionally, the patriarchal ‘othering’ hierarchy extended from women downwards to children, and on to animals, plants, air, water, rocks and indigenes, each being objectified as a resource by this practice. Powerfully energised by the Eurocentric masculine consciousness, sex-gender domination has served as the linchpin for a complex of political oppressions.” Ariel Salleh, “Ökofeminizmus [Ecofeminism],” Fordulat 25., Klímaváltozás és kapitalizmus [Climate Change and Capitalism] (2019): 145-158.

7 Modern scientific discoveries gradually altered the geocentric model in which the Earth was the centre of the cosmos. The Sun became the centre of the new world in the theories of Copernicus. Later, Giordano Bruna proved that the universe is infinite, human civilization being merely a tiny portion of it. This new knowledge ended the attempts to identify a centre and the universe became independent of humans, meaning that it should be observed from an external, objective position. Source: György Kampis et al., “Előadások a természetfilozófia történetéből [Lectures from the history of natural sciences],” Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 2012, http://www.eltereader.hu/kiadvanyok/eloadasok-a-termeszetfilozofia-tortenetebol/. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

8 A mechanistic worldview imagines the world as calculable from the interactions of simple elements: components which construct a clear, interlinked system. The ontological system of the mechanistic worldview is premised on the power relation between the active object and its passive, bearing environment. The mechanistic worldview was revolutionary because, in contrast to foregone ages, it assumed that the object was the active agent, while the environment was the passive endurer in the object-environment relation. Source: György Kampis et al., “Előadások a természetfilozófia történetéből [Lectures from the history of natural sciences],” Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 2012, http://www.eltereader.hu/kiadvanyok/eloadasok-a-termeszetfilozofia-tortenetebol/. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

9 Cartesian philosophy is linked to Descartes, who developed the other main methodology of the Enlightenment. A Cartesian epistemology questions all experiences – not only our own experiences, but also external powers. He promulgates the all-encompassing validity of scientific inquiry, suggesting that complex systems should be stripped down to their elements (processes and disciplines) and that their causal relations should be assessed objectively. All understanding is based on subjective evidence, leading him to his famous thesis: cogito ergo sum. According to this, only the mind can imagine itself, which provides it exclusive evidence of its existence. Thus, the approach that “others can think instead of me” is substituted with a central and overly emphasized subject as the source of certainty. Source:György Kampis et al., “Előadások a természetfilozófia történetéből [Lectures from the history of natural sciences],” Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem, 2012, http://www.eltereader.hu/kiadvanyok/eloadasok-a-termeszetfilozofia-tortenetebol/. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

10 Carolyne Merchant, The Death of Nature – Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution (Harper & Row. 1983), 2.

11 See: Kiss Kata Dóra, “Vissza a természethez? Az ökológiai válság feminista olvasata [Back to Nature? A Feminist Reading of the Ecological Crisis],” xtro realm / Klímaképzelet Reader V., http://tranzitblog.hu/vissza-a-termeszethez-az-okologiai-valsag-feminista-olvasata/. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

12Salleh, “Ökofeminizmus [Ecofeminism],” 145-158.

13 Joachim Ritter, “A táj: az esztétikum funkciója a modern társadalomban [Landscape. On the Function of Aesthetics in Modern Society],” Pompeji 3 (1995): 132-148.

14 Denis E. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 15.

15 W.J.T. Mitchell, ed., Landscape and Power (The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 2.

16 Georg Simmel, “A táj filozófiája [The Philosophy of Landscape],” In Velence, Firenze, Róma. Művészetelméleti írások [The Art of the City: Rome, Florence, Venice], ed. Gábor Berényi (Budapest: Atlantisz, 1990), 99.

17 “Panofsky suggests that the central perspective has been vested with symbolic power and meaning. This could be due to two reasons. One is that it enframed space into an abstract and universal system, which also reflects the Cartesian mathesis universalist, the uniform contemplation of the world. The other reason is that it introduced the fixed view’s position, which came to express humans’ aspirations to dominate. The freedom to choose a subjective point of view can be contrasted with the systematization of the world and the objectivity which viewing it from afar entails. The tension between the two stems from the fact that the central perspective not only opens up the (depicted) world in front of the human but also includes them, transfiguring them from a spectator to an actor.” Source: Dr. Tarnay László, “A középpontos perspektíva ‘szubjektív’jellege [The Subjectivity in Central Perspective],” in Az esztétika tapasztalati alapjai [The Bases of Aesthetic Experience], Pécsi Tudományegyetem Bölcsészettudományi Kar, 2011, http://janus.ttk.pte.hu/tamop/tananyagok/esztetika_tap_alap/68_a_kzppontos_perspektva_szubjektvjellege.html. Accessed: 12.04.2018.

18 Denis E. Cosgrove, Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1998), 19.

19 D. Meinig, ed., The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979)

20 The USA articulated its goal to develop modern and high yielding grains for developing countries in the 1950s. It provided the rice and grain crops it had developed by the mid-1960s to Latin American and Asian agricultures. The success of these crops is generally referred to as the Green Revolution (fertilizers, herbicides, intensive land use, etc.). Source: R. E. Evenson and D. Gollin, “Assessing the Impact of the Green Revolution, 1960 to 2000,” Science, Vol. 300, Issue 5620 (May 2003): 758-762, DOI: 10.1126/science.1078710

21 Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977), 177.

22 xtro realm has been organising events (book clubs, exhibitions, field trips) for the sake of knowledge-sharing and transdisciplinary interaction since 2017. These are aimed at helping participants interpret the climate change and anthropocene which determine our existence according to the new realist and ecological theories criticizing the anthropocentrism of contemporary thought. Its members are Gideon Horváth, Anna Zilahi, and Rita Süveges. See www.xtrorealm.hu.

23 Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (London; New York: Routledge, 2004), 4.

24 Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (London; New York: Routledge, 2004), 93.

25 Frederick Buell, “A Short History of Environmental Apocalypse,” in Future Ethics – Climate Change and Apocalyptic Imagination, ed. Stefan Skrimshire (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2010), 13-25.

26 See: Hódosy Annamária, Biomozi. Ökokritika és populáris film. [Biotheatre. Ecocriticism and the Common Movie.] (Szeged: Tiszatáj Alapítvány, 2018)

27 “The passion caused by the great and the sublime in nature, when those causes operate most powerfully is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it.” Edmund Burke, Filozófiai vizsgálódás a fenségesről és a szépről való ideáink eredetét illetően [A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful] (Budapest: Magvető, 2008), 87.

28 Meghan Bissonnette, “Toxic Sublime and the Dilemma of the Documentary,” Seismopolite (June 2016), http://www.seismopolite.com/toxic-sublime-the-dilemma-of-the-documentary.

29 See: T.J. Demos, “The Agency of Fire: Burning Aesthetics,” E-flux Journal #98. (February 2019), https://www.e-flux.com/journal/98/256882/the-agency-of-fire-burning-aesthetics/. Accessed: 20.04.2020.

30 Peterdi Vera, “Hogyan is állunk ma a pusztával?: Kunpuszta régió (Felső-Kiskunság) pusztai turizmusának etnográfiai megközelítése. [How do We Stand with the Plain? An Ethnographic Approach to the Kunpuszta Region (Upper-Kiskunság)],” in Turizmus és kommunikáció [Tourism and Communication], ed. Fejős Zoltán, Szijártó Zsolt (Budapest: Néprajzi Múz.; Pécs: Pte Kommunikációs Tanszék, 2000), 129-152.

31 Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (London; New York: Routledge, 2004), 33-59.

32 “MÉTA Program,” Landscape Ecological Vegetation Database & Map of Hungary, MTA Ökológiai Kutatóközpont, https://www.novenyzetiterkep.hu/node/53. Accessed: 05.05.2020.

33 Frank Tamás and Szmorad Ferenc, Védett erdők természetességi állapotának fenntartása és fejlesztése. Hogyan csináljunk faállományból erdőt? [Maintaining and Developing the State of Protected Forests. How to Turn a Stock of Trees into a Forest?] (Budapest: Duna–Ipoly Nemzeti Park Igazgatóság, 2014), 25-30.

34 John Barrell, The Dark Side of the Landscape: The Rural Poor in English Painting 1730-1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

35 Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, “Art & Death: Lives Between the Fifth Assessment & the Sixth Extinction,” in Art in the Anthropocene, Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, ed. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (Open Humanities Press, 2015), 7.

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