What is human nature? A lot of words have been spilled on that one, but I’ll just cut to the chase and offer one of many possible good answers: “Making is human nature.”
In his book, Making, social anthropologist Tim Ingold says, “To inhabit the world…is to join in the processes of formation. It is to participate in a dynamic world of energies, forces and flows” (89). Rather than setting us apart from nature, this action is nature: “the world is perpetually under construction by way of the activities of its inhabitants” (70). Ingold points out that "the mountain is not, and never will be, completed" (81), and we are all participants in that process of world formation. The world is worlding, not only around us, but through us.
Location informs everything we do, and will always characterize the work we create. Industrial production and quality control seek to limit idiosyncratic expression; yet, we don’t make things “out of thin air.” We depend, not only on our designs and our know-how, but on the cooperation of matter and elemental forces. Nonetheless, that fact may be forgotten when we are immersed in virtual experience or tucked away in highly controlled environments. In such forgetting, we also forget our dependence on the world around us, and our responsibilities to it.
In the Mythos-Sphere process, we always begin with tuning into place. To notice where we are is the simple grounding that helps us to remember our relations with the elements, the materials at hand, and all the other creatures and influences known and unknown that participate in our experience. Whatever we create through this process could not have been created by any other group at any other time in any other place.
It’s no surprise, then, that I would be awed and inspired by those artists whose work so clearly speaks of their relationship with place and time. Noah Purifoy is one such maker, whose Outdoor Museum holds his constructions of found objects. This ten acre wonderland in the Mojave desert invites us to listen in on his sculptural conversation with the world around him.