Artist's 'landthropologic' earth artworks bring out the wonders of nature (Video)

Paul Johnson
© Paul Johnson

Not all art is done with paint and brush, as various environmental artists have shown with massive, large-scaled "land art" works that use rocks, trees, sand, water and snow as the medium of expression.

Inspired by land art greats like Robert Smithson, Jim Denevan and Andy Goldsworthy, Minnesota-based graphic designer, photographer and "landthropologist" Paul Johnson experiments with earth-based materials in his work, but adds a bit of modern stop animation techniques into his pieces, making it more accessible and shareable for the digital age. Watch this captivating, short animated film of Johnson's:

Landthropologic, Earthworks In Motion from Paul Johnson on Vimeo.

Paul JohnsonPaul Johnson/Video screen capture
Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson

Dubbed "Landthropologic, Earthworks In Motion" and seen over at This Is Colossal, Johnson's animated shorts show wild locations near the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but in a different perspective. Using plants, snow, ice, light, rocks and sticks, Johnson painstakingly creates intriguing sequences that are a skillful play on movement and composition. They are also a way for Johnson to channel his energies, to align them with the powerful forces of nature, as he explains on Steller:

Making these works puts me into a kind of meditative state, where my mind has a singular focus and everything else falls away. Taking the time to create something out in the elements adds another layer to this state. One that forces the close examination and appreciation of the incredible patterns and systems of the natural world.

Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson

There is a sense of curiosity and lively wonder that pervades Johnson's images; nature's living energy is reframed by human hands to form interesting geometric shapes, patterns, or supernatural movements -- such as Johnson's brilliant work with fire.

Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson

And there too, are images showing how climate change is impacting places close to home. Says Johnson about the following images, via Instagram:

Last weekend I took a little field trip to Devils Lake, ND. The lake is in a closed basin with no outlet and has been slowly rising for two decades due to recent climate shifts. Over 300 farms and two towns have completely or partially gone under water in a slowly rising sea on the prairie.

This was a scouting trip for a possible more comprehensive project taking photos in the area and documenting what's left. Unfortunately, almost all of the farms and buildings are already gone. Year old satellite images showing houses and barns surrounded by miles of water are now just open water. Those that remain will probably be claimed by the lake within a couple years. It's a surreal and somewhat melancholy place to see.

Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson© Paul Johnson

Through images, sound and movement, Johnson's work provides insights into not only climate change, but also another potential perspective into the natural world and its forces of transformation, prompting us to stay a bit longer, look a bit closer and to imagine what might be possible. More over at This Is Colossal, Paul Johnson and Instagram.

Tags: Artists | Arts | Minnesota | video


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