Unnatural Landscapes #2

June 21, 2010

So, here, a different kind of unnatural, one produced not by the camera but by the environment itself.  The shots you see below are of a rainforest; that rainforest is located in a geodesic dome in Milwaukee, WI.  During Milwaukee’s heyday in the ’50s/’60s someone got the idea to build the Mitchell Park Domes, three domes in what’s now a sort of shady part of Milwaukee that each show case a different kind of landscape; the two other domes show you an arid landscape and a botanical garden, neither of which are as (to me) visually interesting as the fake tropics and the lengths to which management has gone to produce forest thickness in a relatively small space (maybe 150′ in diameter) while maintaining the exotic landscape’s accessibility via clear paths and convenient plaques naming this or that tree or flower.  What you end up with is not one specific site transplanted to Milwaukee, then, but a hodge podge of “tropical” signifiers, which is sort of unsettling–a theatrical staging of nature rather than a reproduction of it.  (So the reproduction becomes my job,I guess, a copy of a copy.)

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