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“In, If Not Always Of” Is a series of photographs in which a being or presence that I call, “The Oscillator,” appears in various landscapes. The Oscillator reflects its environment, without simply or always being of its context. This work is inspired by Buddhist notions of interconnectedness, the illusion of the self and the trappings of the ego. The Oscillator queries our relationship to place and space, and our limiting ideas that divide humans from nature.
In “Ecology Without Nature”, Timothy Morton reminds us that the West’s very conception of nature as being “over there” and separate from humans is part of our ecological challenge. Humans cannot simply see ourselves as exceptional and apart. We must consider what Richard Grusin and others have called the non-human turn. I have been exploring these ideas through the presencing of The Oscillator in parks and nature reserves, areas that have been demarcated by the state and private organizations as “nature,” or apart from the built, yet that are nonetheless shaped actively (if not wholly) by human hands.
The Oscillator can sometimes mirror its surrounding environment, but it is also encompassed and shaped by its landscape. It oscillates between belonging and alienation. Sometimes The Oscillator seems to announce its presence through contrast and difference. Other times it more seamlessly blends in, almost indistinguishable from its context. Still other times it appears to shape shift. Throughout these cumulative encounters, we might wonder what makes something or someone feel un/natural, in/accessible, in/vulnerable, in/coherent? In this body of work, I am playing with both dissonance and resonance, exploring how they might perhaps lead to deeper understandings of connection and synergy.
Pato Hebert is an artist, educator and cultural worker. His work explores the aesthetics, ethics and poetics of interconnectedness. He is particularly interested in space, spirituality, pedagogy and progressive praxis. Recent projects have been presented at Beton7 in Athens, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, the Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, and The Glass Studio at The Chrysler Museum in Norfolk. In 2015 he was an artist-in-residence with the Neighborhood Time Exchange project in West Philadelphia. Hebert’s work has been supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Creative Work Fund, the National Education Association and a Mid-Career Fellowship for Visual Artists from the California Community Foundation. In 2008 he received the Excellence in Teaching Award from CENTER, Santa Fe. He teaches as an Associate Arts Professor in the Art and Public Policy Department at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.