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Nature and civilization – the Town series

In this series, I explore the theme of nature and civilization and raise questions about the human scale.

My concept for “Town” is linked to the ancient Stadt”, a word in the German language, and refers to a settlement larger than a village. It does not define “town” in the modern sense. My work refers to the Town which resembles a living organism in its structure and development. It grows around the needs of the inhabitants over time, in contrast to the modern city with its machine-made sterility and imposing precision. The Town remains within the framework of nature, with its irregular patterns, shapes, colors, and materials. It remains scaled to the human who exists as a part of nature, rather than standing in opposition and contrast to nature.

In human-size towns there is more interrelation than isolation – quite unlike the modern urban experience. But all civilization leads to fragmentation: the whole is divided as each person or family claims a separate space. Refractions become visible in the structure, forming clusters of repetitive but irregular entities, almost crystalline.

milenarts-town-river   milenarts-rainy-day   milenarts-spring
              Town and River                           Town – Rainy Day                                     Spring time

These pictures develop in a two-stage process, which is an allegory on the subject. The process reflects the duality of nature and civilization in a human environment.

Stage 1 (Nature) is action-based, characterized by unrestrained creation, in which color and material are applied with instinctive movements. Decisions are impulsive. Constructive actions can change with deconstructive ones; like nature, creating something untamed but not chaotic. Allegorically, this is the phase where humans first arrive at a site and decide to settle. The landscape has provided some extant structures and man builds with and around nature.

Stage 2 (Civilization) involves detailed elaboration of the artwork. The process is one of conscious decision-making to establish order. Allegorically, this how civilization develops. Judgments and selections are made regarding what is useful, and what will be enhanced, discarded, or tamed.

milenarts-Jerusalem milenarts-Clermont-Ferrand milenarts-Atlantis
                         Jerusalem                                                 Clermont-Ferrand                                                     Atlantis

milenarts-town milenarts-town
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© Milena Kühnau 2014