The stories we tell matter. They shape and frame how we identify, understand, and address challenges. Many of the sustainability stories being told and re-told have been predicated on the idea that techno-scientific solutions will be our salvation. Rarely do they deeply interrogate the cultural and aesthetic factors that contribute to our human-environment relationships. Between Two Pines builds on the growing realization that artists must contribute to and enlarge our current conceptions of sustainability. This book explores how conceptions of the sublime, beauty, and the picturesque influenced the development of our natural aesthetic sensibilities and resolves that sustainability stewardship will require the intersection of ecology, aesthetics, and ethics. Pivoting off the history of landscape photography, Cardenas proposes a sustainability aesthetic, a framework for how the arts can reposition themselves for a sustainability social practice. The book concludes with one hundred little dramas, a body of photographic work that puts to practice his sustainability aesthetic. Between Two Pines places scholarship and art on equal footing, ultimately providing a framework and examples of how art practice can and must be integrated into dialogues and narratives on transitioning into a more sustainable future.
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“I am truly thankful that Dr. Edgar Cardenas’s thoughtful research is now available in this beautiful book. I have recommended his work to more people, both in my personal and professional spheres of my life, than I can count, and I’m glad to have this provocative and elegant publication to put into people’s hands. Cardenas shows us how each of us really can make a difference.” Rebecca A. Senf, Chief Curator, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, and author of Making a Photographer
“A truly beautiful and thought provoking treatise on the productive relationship between art and science. In Between Two Pines, Cardenas breaks new interdisciplinary ground through an innovative rethinking of sustainability. This book is a call to action that forces the reader to rethink the antiquated and often paralyzing divisions between the arts and the hard sciences.”Jason De León, Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA, MacArthur Fellow, and author of The Land of Open Graves
“Understanding that broad and complex fields of inquiry must be committed to multiple approaches, Edgar Cardenas makes a cogent and well-grounded case for artistic research in the literatures of sustainability. He also offers his own visual essay—punctuated by philosophical reference and personal reflection—on what it means to live fully engaged with the often unnoticed world at our fingertips. Between Two Pines is an insightful offering on how to open the door to artistic practices in research.”Joey Orr, Andrew W. Mellon Curator for Research, Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas
“Between Two Pines anticipates and leads the discussion of scholarship around questions of land and landscape. This work brilliantly and ethically refocuses our vision, from distanced scrutiny to connection and proximity, rooted in daily care-taking and ecological efforts. Thoughtfully imaged, the photographs offer an aesthetic that is based in balanced, enduring reflection, rather than on the grand view. These beautiful images reveal discoveries that bridge the arts, ecology, and sociology, and will serve to reconnect every reader with the world in their backyard and beyond.”Rebekah Modrak, School of Art & Design, University of Michigan, and author of Reframing Photography
“Drawing from a long photographic tradition of examining the relationship between humans and their environment, Edgar Cardenas has found a voice that is as compassionate as it is poignant. Yet he is not content for his photographs to be mere observations, recording the relationship. Between Two Pines is a call to action – a platform by which we might imagine together, with all of the tools in our tool kit, a sustainable future.”J.D. Talasek, Director, Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences
"This book is about many things. It is about storytelling, and it tells stories. It is about aesthetics and awareness, and it envelopes us in its distinctive aesthetic and heightens our awareness. It presents science and art as complementary modes of inquiry, and uses art and science to guide us along a path of inquiry. Words and images combine to carry us along an exploration of what sustainability means as a principle in everyday life. "One hundred little dramas" complete the book by immersing the reader--who has now become an observer and inquirer, collaborating with the author--in a world re-enchanted through compassionate observation, free of glamour or pity." Edward J. Hackett, Vice Provost for Research, Brandeis University
Edgar Cardenas holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University. He focuses most of his academic attention on social creativity and small group dynamics aimed at fostering productive artist-scientist collaborations. He gave up on art after high school until he realized – a decade later – that it was the practice that most grounds him. As an artist he is primarily interested in the ecological, cultural, and technological subtleties of human/environment relationships.