The Earth is currently facing one of its most challenging existential threats — climate change. Every year global temperatures rise and the frequency and severity of natural disasters increase. The Earth is in a moment of transition—from the relatively stable environment of the Holocene towards a new geologic period, one that is driven by human action, known as the Anthropocene.
For the past few years, I have been photographing the landscape of the Northeastern United States looking for symbols of change. I have explored areas impacted by natural disasters, land displaced by development projects, and spaces where the influence of the human hand is undeniable. Overwhelming and intrusive artificial light, mounds of earthen material destined to disappear or be redistributed, flora and fauna controlled and cultivated by humans are featured prominently within this work. These photographs are meditations on an uncertain future and portend the coming changes. And in that sense, they are omens.
Born and raised in the northeast United States, Nathan uses photography as a way to explore how we relate to the natural world during our time of environmental uncertainty. His use of bold colors and strong contrast to point towards symbols of change that exist within natural spaces, underscoring the oppressive sense of precarity of the future. Natural and human-made elements are featured prominently within his images. He often highlights marks and disruptions that are indicators of use, exploitation, and commercialization, but does not include humans themselves in his images. He uses places, structures, and artificial light sources to allude to a world that is inundated by human influence. Nathan captures the world as a force outside of ourselves with a dueling sense of hope and despair.
Heavily influenced by science fiction and a love for the outdoors, he often finds himself questioning the future: What impacts human influence will have on the natural world, and what is the future of Earth within the Anthropocene?
© text and pictures by Nathan Emerson Rochefort