Nature Effects is an Arts Council England supported multi-faceted art and science project conceived and developed by Mark Ware. Nature Effects is leading to a body of new multimedia digital art, all directly influenced by the natural environment and its positive impact on wellbeing and health. At its core, the project involves Mark shooting and cataloguing of a large number of professional quality photographs of nature. Eventually, the library of photos of natural scenes will total over 5,000 images.
The applications for the Nature Effects photographic library, supported by scientific investigation and evaluation, will include:
- A library of high-resolution digital photography, comprised of natural scenes and subjects, shot throughout the four seasons, for artists and researchers to use. Many of these images have been shot and are currently being processed and categorised. Once this task is completed, a full set of lower resolution copies of the Nature Effects photographic library will be made available online free of charge for non-commercial purposes to artists for use as visual reference material. The first use of the high-resolution versions of the image library for science research purposes will be designed by neuroscientists at the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science (University of Sussex) during 2020.
- Large-scale ‘art nature walls’ featuring high resolution digital images of nature. This work will be created for interior spaces where sensory monotony and the absence of nature are issues. Informed by the results of Mark’s art/science/nature collaboration investigations, the art will be designed to help improve mood and reduce anxiety and stress.
- A multimedia installation with an original music score for voice that will be influenced by the sound frequencies and rhythms of rivers, streams and ocean waves.
- A book, featuring images of nature that have been shown to trigger positive responses in viewers. This will be made available to stroke survivors recovering in hospitals, to help improve mood and stimulate memory.
- Time-based combinations of natural sounds and Nature Effects library images, that will be used in the R&D phase of Mark’s Over The Sea Run The Hares multimedia performance.
- Nature-influenced interior designs. These designs will be informed by Mark’s knowledge and experience of commercial art and fine art, his experience of stroke, and the successful research outcomes of his ongoing art/science collaborations that are investigating the health benefits of exposure to nature.
- The staging of a series of public engagement activities, including nature-influenced art workshops for young people in ‘nature-deprived’ inner city environments, and for people with disabilities who find access to the natural environment difficult.
Mark comments: “The Nature Effects photographic library is, I believe, unique in the sense that it is all shot by the same professional photographer, using the same professional photographic equipment throughout, delivered for use by artists and researchers with a minimal amount of digital manipulation. This means that there is a consistent quality and integrity of image. In addition, when taking these photographs, I am avoiding lengthy periods spent considering what composition to use. Instead, I have worked much more intuitively, often taking no more than 5-10 seconds to compose and shoot the photographs. My hope is that my professional knowledge will help minimise ‘contamination’ of the images (avoiding accidentally introducing unwanted unintentional components that might trigger unwelcome responses in the viewer), whilst at the same time, my intuitive approach to taking the photographs will hopefully resonate with what most people intuitively respond to when looking at naturalistic scenes.
I would like to thank Dr Andrew Owens (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Prof Hugo Critchley (Sackler Centre for Consciousness, University of Sussex) for their contribution to the thinking behind Nature Effects in 2014.