Toxic City

There are (at least) two aspects of the DePauw Nature Park that I haven’t written about that make this place fascinating to me. One is the structure of the ground. 

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There is some weird flaky stuff that I haven’t seen elsewhere, but besides that, the ground is just more complex than what you typically would call Indiana Dirt

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I have waited to show this until now because, with early frost, everything gets even better. 

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The other aspect is the sound. In principle, this should be a quiet place (there rarely is anybody, at least not at my favorite hours). But there are birds, of course, and other noises, from factories and railroad tracks just not far enough away to be inaudible. Somebody should record this.

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Which brings me to another theme, that of ambiance in general. I have been listening to what is called ambient music for a while now, with increasing pleasure. Ambient music is not a well defined thing. It can just mean the incorporation of everyday sounds, or the questionable pleasure of background music. I like ambient music best when it distills everyday noise into something exceptional. Examples of that are Richard Skelton’s compositions (that are, in a good sense, very much down to earth), or, a recent discovery for me, Evan Caminiti’s recent music, including his new album Toxic City

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In photography (or even in art in general) there is the “classical” way to idealize the object — remove it from its context, isolate it, and even alienate it, in order to show a possibly artificially construed intrinsic beauty.

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Ambient art, in contrast, tries to show you how much there is without interference. We just have to look.

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That is a lie, of course. Whenever we show, we select. But selecting what we feel is worth seeing (or hearing) is very different from imposing a verdict on how things are on the viewer (or listener).

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