Wara Bullôt is a photographer based in New Zealand, whose work engages the relationship between architecture and landscape.
Her current research involves an investigation into the contemporary relationship between the built environment and the natural landscape, by examining the transformations of the land through human activity.
“Due to the ongoing global development and transformation of everyday constructed landscapes, I became interested in how the built environment is constantly evolving. While nature is the basis of human existence, the design and construction of the built environment determines how we interpret and, in turn, interact with our surroundings. The complex and co-existing relationship between nature and our built environment is ambiguous and needs reconsideration. This has led me to explore how the transitions of our built environment over time impact the way we see and perceive our own surroundings and consequently, the world.
Each individual has their own perceptions of the world as a whole that is derived from their personal experiences. These perceptions can be triggered by the representations of a place within the world. Know Where is a photographic exploration based on my perception of my surroundings and a quest to unravel the uncertainty I have in the built environment. Through my daily observations of the places I encounter I am captivated by otherwise banal ordinary spaces such as parking lots and factories. These places imperceptibly reflect the feelings of order and control arising from the continued commodification and use of natural spaces.Photography, as a medium, depicts representations of reality that can be implicit or explicit.
Today, technological advancements and digitization shifts the message of photographs, creating multiple layers of meaning, which cannot be decoded in isolation. I have used technology as a tool to create new visions of reconstructed ordinary landscapes as I try to make sense of them and extract them from their original context. The landscapes of Know Where combine unrelated urban and suburban places, industrial and commercial spaces: a world that already exists in our everyday lives. The experimental method of dismantling the photographs then reconstructing multiple fragments of the subject matter creates ‘placeless’ scenes of our surroundings that appear familiar yet unidentifiable.It also reveals mixed desires, to simultaneously engage with and escape or even withdraw from, the built environment. The reconstruction of this intangible reality elucidates a significant shift in how I interpret my surroundings. These artificial simulations of reconstructed environments have resulted in me developing an urge to rediscover nature. In rediscovering nature, the tension between alienation from the natural world and the social premises of the built environment is evident, confirming how humankind is somewhat separated from the natural world due to the commodification of land. Yet the photographs contain fragments of nature that are conditioned by human intervention such as quarries and an artificial beach. These scenes resemble the state of everyday reality, as I know it.
This body of work depicts an imagined future that reflects on humankind’s constant need to construct and colonise nature for our everyday purposes. The question this now raises is; will the ongoing influence humankind has on our future landscape be utopian or dystopian?”
Wara Bullot was featured in The Earth Issue. Purchase a copy here.
See more of her work on her website.