11 Nov 2017 | Anna Witt – The 5th International Photography Festival, Tel Aviv
Second Nature is usually taken to mean a quality that has become an ingrained trait. Cultural and biological explanations place the preeminence of the eye at the root of human society’s construction of reality. We rely on sight as a second nature with which we discover the world. In recent years, the term Second Nature has also been used in reference to the price that the Earth (״first nature״) pays for the rampant exploitation of natural resources and pollution brought about by the dominance of capitalism (i.e. – second nature). In our current ecological disaster, second nature is given precedence over first nature. The exhibition operates in the interplay between the two meanings of Second Nature, from an awareness to the changes that have taken place in our ways of seeing in the early 21st century, as images broke away from the human eye and became largely invisible. Human sight has turned into a private case of a wider phenomenon – images produced by machines for other machines. We are accustomed to the electronic eye that is used every day in toll roads, packaging, shipping, transporting, industrial
production, pharmaceuticals, and electronics. However, beyond security, production efficiency, and ״smart cities,״ the electronic eye is also involved in the process of our recognition – of ourselves and of others, and in the relations between us. With the ubiquitous online use of software like Deep Face and Deep Mask, our sight has become secondary in the description and understanding of the reality in which we operate. A reality in which machines not only take pictures but also see, inevitably alters the way we see the world. The photographers featured in the exhibition Second Nature look at the way we see today, in a reality of seeing and learning by artificial intelligence. And so, when photography itself – as an action and as a way of thinking
– changes its identity, images break away from a portrayal of reality and return to their ancient meaning as ״memory images,״ indicating the overriding principle of the system we all live in – Second Nature.