/ (1 of 1)
A Corrupt Nature

“Our story of the fall in the Garden sees nature as corrupt; and that myth corrupts the whole world for us. Because nature is thought of as corrupt, every spontaneous act is sinful and must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity,” Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth, 1988)

Once it was established that God was separate from Nature, Western civilization took a headlong turn into dominating and subjugating Nature. We can see that Manifest Destiny and its agricultural corollary ‘Rain follows the plow’ in the American West built upon this myth, imagining Nature submitting willfully to man’s instruments of control.

"In this miracle of progress, the plow was the unerring prophet, the procuring cause, not by any magic or enchantment, not by incantations or offerings, but instead by the sweat of his face toiling with his hands, man can persuade the heavens to yield their treasures of dew and rain upon the land he has chosen for his dwelling … The raindrop never fails to fall and answer to the imploring power or prayer of labor,” Charles Dana Wilber (The Great Valleys and Prairies of Nebraska and the Northwest, 1881)

Las Vegas expands upon these myths by serving as the symbol of conquered Nature, a city where casinos rise like mountains, each borrowing from the fabled Venice, Paris, New York, ancient Egypt and Rome. Along with Nature, time and place have been overcome; this is a total victory where anything is possible—a template for cities like Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

In ‘A Corrupt Nature’ our traditional viewpoint of Las Vegas is flipped. Our focus is sets of lonely, forgotten trees and strange piles of detritus resembling pyramids, the casinos far in the background. Immediately, we’re reminded of the barren landscape that preceded our arrival. Through the use of color, these elements transcend their ordinary appearance and become symbols of Nature’s inherent power and endurance, patiently outlasting eras and species.