Contemporary technological developments allow for greater manipulation of the natural world than ever before. While the increasing variety of synthetic materials, techniques, and equipment employed in horticulture and urban development are reshaping the land, sophisticated digital imaging tools, ranging from computer-generated graphics to 3D modeling and rendering software, are changing the way we design and represent landscapes. Through technology, we are continually imitating, reconstructing, and perfecting the natural environment. As a result, the physical and conceptual borders between the organic and synthetic elements, the “born” and the “made,” in our physical environments are becoming progressively obscured, as are the lines between representation and reality.
In Vitro Complex offers a visual exploration of the dynamics between nature and technology within the context of the contemporary developing landscape, and it questions the effects of imaging technology on the contemporary perception of, and our relationship to, the natural world. Tracing the history of technology and landscape art over the last 150 years shows how man’s ability to shape the western landscape, both physically and through imaging technology, affects our perceptions of nature. This thesis questions how technological progress shapes our relationship to the subject of landscape and its representation in contemporary culture. It examines the artwork of In Vitro Complex against a backdrop of other contemporary artists who, through various approaches ranging from documentary to staged photography to digitally manipulated and computer-generated imagery, document and interpret the effects of technology on the physical environment and explore contemporary culture’s relationship to the natural world.