Artificial Nature

Year created: 2022

Cheewit kong chan lookkrating [My Life…A Little Gaur] (1977) is a renowned piece of young adult literature ranked among the top 100 books for children and youth by Thailand Research Fund in 2000. Written by Dr. Boonsong Lekagul (1907–1992), a prominent naturalist and conservationist, the book anthropomorphizes a small guar and other animals to teach readers about forest animals in Thailand. The literary work shifts readers’ understanding of the forest from an impenetrable, mysterious jungle to a scientifically comprehensible natural ecosystem. The book also depicts human hunters as two-legged monsters who ride on the back of a traitorous elephant who take life by using thunder.

Dr. Boonsong uses literature as a union of arts and science to create an entry point for children to learn about ecology and human effects on the forest system. Even by today’s standards, the book is very progressive.

At present, the dialogue between nature and aesthetics goes beyond beauty and the sublime. Having become a crucial tool for understanding the relationship between the human and nonhuman, artistic practice now helps to raise awareness about the conservation of nature in a world where nothing is undisturbed by human actions.

Warin Lab Contemporary together with Waiting You Curator Lab invited Nakrob Moonmanas and Mary Pakinee, two young Thai artists, to create new works inspired by Cheewit kong chan lookkrating in Warin Lab Contemporary’s exhibition space that used to be Dr. Boonsong’s office.

In “Artificial Nature,” Nakrob takes audiences on a historical journey through the zoological literature of Siamese intellects prior to Dr. Boonsong.
He creates an interactive installation influenced by generations of poetry that attempts to describe and depict the Karawek, a mythical bird that makes the most beautiful sound in the world. He also uses taxonomy to question the placement of mystery and beliefs after science changed perceptions of nature. 

Meanwhile, Mary uses a digital library to create a new environment in a simulated world. The shared culture of open-world design, a game mechanic that allows players to roam freely in the pre-designed space, influences her work. Therein, audiences again assume a position as another being. The work explores not only the lack of forest in the physical world but also human violence that creates the artificial environment of the virtual world. The exhibition is an exploration into art’s role in environmental conservationism and asks questions about what has been lost in the wake of modernity.

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