The title of this exhibition is taken from a line in the first chapters of My First Summer in Sierra by John Muir, a book that documents the author’s adventures through the Yosemite region of California in the summer of 1869. This text also provides narrative content for a video simulation in the exhibition (Content Live!). Muir is considered one of the first modern ecologists and his text provides an immersive and objectifying depiction of the natural world.
The recurring appearance of the great American landscape in this exhibition, Yosemite National Park in a number of the works, refers specifically to this location as a destination of spiritual and creative pilgrimage to artists across a vast array of image-making technologies and literature over the last two centuries.
As imagery of climate breakdown is increasingly consumed and circulated, there has been a shift in the understanding of nature as a resource, to rethinking it as a set of entangled phenomena that undulates across vast amounts of space and timescales.
We are now in the mountains, and they are in us looks back at the history of image-making devices over the last 200 years and how they contributed to an objectified conception of what nature is. In this exhibition, the work explores the ways in which the West has depicted the Earth using image-making media that spans across the history of drawing; 19th century methods of chemical photography; painting; lithography; moving image; artificial intelligence; sculpture; streaming devices; video; and game simulations. Evolving from this, Butler explores how the evolution of these modes of representation built the visual languages we use to portray landscape and the material world today.
Alan Butler’s work explores material and philosophical ideas about how imagery and meaning function in technologically mediated realities. His subject often ties together the cultural dogma that underpins visual languages, with algorithmic modes of being in western capitalist societies. Educated at LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore (2009) and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (2004). As part of the collective ANNEX he represented Ireland at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2021.
Recent activities include solo exhibitions The Need To Argue In The Master’s Language, Visual Carlow, Ireland (2018); Down and Out in Los Santos, Malmö Fotobiennal, Sweden (2017); HELIOSYNTH, Green on Red Gallery, Dublin (2017); We Were Promised Anarchy, But What We Got Was Chaos, Solstice Art Centre, Ireland (2015); and group exhibitions Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art, The Akron Art Museum (2019); Digital Citizen: The Precarious Subject, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK (2019), Weird Capitalism, Transfer, New York (2018); Back to the Future, C/O Berlin (2018); SITUATIONS/Posthuman, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2018); States of Play: Roleplay Reality, FACT, Liverpool, England (2018); As Above, So Below, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2017); Les Rencontres d’Arles, France (2017).
Alan Butler’s work is in the collections of IMMA, The Arts Council of Ireland, and Trinity College Dublin. He is represented by Green On Red Gallery, Ireland and Galerie Conrads, Berlin.\