Jenna Witzleben

MFA Thesis Blog

This blog contains experiments, project and reading reflections, unanswered questions, and more relating to my year-long thesis as part of my Master's design program. From Sept. 2016 to May 2017, I explored rewilding human beings and the environments we inhabit at multiple scales including investigation around individual fears of nature, regional food production systems, and global overpopulation. The final works of this thesis can be found in my portfolio.

Lists: Barriers and Protection

Photo from Ephemeral New York

Photo from Ephemeral New York

Barriers to Connection with Nature:

Mental/Emotional: Fear, Normality, Lack of knowledge, Lack of apparent desire/need

Physical: Distance, Urbanization, Human-built protection (see below), Dangers and hazards (which then contribute to fear)

Social: Conflicts with current lifestyle, Normality, Mechanistic views, Discomfort with organic/spiritual/intangible

Economic/Financial: Inequality of access, growth and consumption

Political: Laws against action and change

Photo from Interesting in NYC blog

Photo from Interesting in NYC blog

Ways in which we "protect" ourselves from nature:

Destruction of ecosystems, animals, and natural landscapes/beings; Architecture; Pavement and Roads; Deforesting; Lighting; Guns and weaponry; Walls and barriers; Pesticides; Animal traps; Umbrellas; Clothing; Soap; Filtration systems; Shoes; Medication (allergies); Sunscreen; Hats; Sunglasses; Iodine tablets; Snow removal; Refrigeration and AC; Hair and skin products; Citronella; Bug spray; Fly swatters; Cages; Fences; Landscape fencing; Designated pathways ("Don't walk on the grass"); Transportation vehicles

An interesting phenomena starts to arise here, however, that not all of these protection mechanisms are inherently or completely bad. As most complex issues go, the answer is not so black and white. In some occasions some of the items listed above, like iodine tablets, allow us to be in nature and interact with it, while still protecting ourselves. Things that, in my opinion, could use some reconsideration are umbrellas - which are often overused and contribute to a societal aversion to rain, a natural phenomena that should be respected and celebrated, as it makes our earth the habitable planet we know.

Photo from University at Buffalo

Photo from University at Buffalo

Things we protect ourselves from:

Elements: Sun, Rain, Wind, Snow, Extreme Temperature, Flooding, Extreme Weather

Animals: Predators, "Pests"

Allergens

Toxins

Bacteria

Disease

Dirt

Day / Night (light control)

Again, some of these things are necessary to protect ourselves from - others are not, or at least not the extreme extent that we do. And all of these could benefit from the reconsideration - are there ways to live symbiotically with these concerns/conditions/beings that is more sustainable and resilient than building walls and more compassionate than killing?

Jenna Witzleben