The concept of an artificial nature is contradictious – seen from the philosophical tradition: With Aristotle there was an ontological dichotomy between entities which are by themselves (nature) and entities which are man-made (artefacts). But this changed with modernity: With Galileo nature was what could be investigated within technical-experimental contexts and this meant that technology could no longer be estimated unnatural.
Arts in the sense of belles arts for centuries followed nature, but with modern arts, i.e. since 19. th century arts liberated itself from the paradigm of nature. So why criticizing artificial nature in our days? The reason is that artificial nature invades the human realm: not only that whole landscapes have to reconstructed in areas which are devastated by industry and traffic but artificial nature which is no longer organic appears in places where it serves only as a fake of natural beings. Artificial plants in urban environments are nothing but substitutes for natural ones which do not flourish there any longer. But what is worse, technology intrudes the human body, that is the nature that we are ourselves. Beginning with drugs which supply artificial sleep through technical substitutes for organs, by which man becomes a cyborg, to the possibility of an artificial reproduction of human beings.
The latter possibility includes artificial birth, cloning and finally the planning of human genes. This might in the long run result in a splitting of the human species, a splitting according to preferred values and functions to be met. If one believes that this is only science fiction one should consider the pace of technological development: If modern technology, i.e. technology since the steam engine is not older than two hundred year, what might be real in another hundred or thousand years? The question is whether a new recognition of nature as something by itself and given to us is necessary.
(Gernot Boehme | Artificial Nature Kuenstliche Natur)
// Octocer 2006