The Nature of Our Work

Over the last few years, in both separate and collaborative capacities, Desmond and I have had wonderful opportunities to experience various spaces, places and people through our work. This has with time led to an ever increasing love of nature, ecologies and environments and has left us with a constant hunger for new experiences and more knowledge on how the universe and world around us functions. Much of this information we pursue intellectually, studying both physical and social sciences with equal rigor, but we also actively embed ourselves in the human-free biospheres around us. As individuals, we are both avid nature enthusiasts undertake regular (often daily) excursions onto the mountains, nature reserves, oceans or other natural spaces in and around where we live in Cape Town. Part of this ethos of enjoying and participating in ecology however had lead to an ever increasing awareness of the threats that our environment is currently facing.

Rapid developments in science and technology over the last 150 have allowed the human population more information and insight into the natural processes and universal functioning than ever before. Conversely however, these rapid technological and scientific leaps have been the root of some of the global issues we are currently faced with such as large scale poverty and unprecedented environmental destruction. A brief look at the last 50 years of human history offers us massive insight into the foundations of these contemporary challenges. Since 1970 manufacturing jobs have lifted approximately 600 million people out of agrarian living patterns or poverty and modern technologies now feed and clothe more individuals than ever seen in human history. There has been the subsequent issue of forcing greater number of individuals from traditional ways of life into homogeneous (primarily, western and colonial) political and social settings and into low paying factory/labour positions in metropolitan cities with poor safety standards, long hours and minimal wages. Furthermore, many goods that they produce get sold overseas to enhance the standard of living in a separate, often already wealthy and developed, society that are now making efforts at environmental protection but do not assist with developing countries having access to cleaner technologies whilst maintaining the ability to compete on the global market. Science and medicine may have alleviated many threats to human life such as disease and agricultural labor but leaves us with population sizes that massively drain both natural resources and built infrastructures of countries. So whilst the standard of living may have risen for the general population, the wealth and inequality gap is exponentially widening. In the last 50 years, we have also scientifically discovered many new ways to harness energy through coal, oil, nuclear which has fueled massive societal and technological developments but these often only benefit a privileged minority. Current modes of production of these energies are nearly exclusively reliant on non-renewable resources that are environmentally damaging to both mine and produce with various consequences such as climate change, large scale water and air pollution and deforestation. Ecological commodification is another growing issue with various companies employing “green” advertising strategies but not furthering an ethic of environmental knowledge in which humans are considered part of a larger natural system. All of these factors culminate into an accelerated extinction of plant and animal species across all biospheres leaving us with a, still unofficial, geological and ideological Anthropocene.

This personal interest has therefore, overtime, become more interwoven with our work. As we spent more time exploring our natural landscapes and being confronted with a variety of issues such as restricted access into areas, pollution and exploitation of raw resources or human suffering through lack of knowledge of or access to the local ecologies around them, our creative work became more explicitly focused on creating dialogues around how these issues arose and what capacity we have to solve them. Desmond progressively took his cinematographic skills and turned them to photographing and filming aspects of the nature and environmental concern and my research and conservation efforts took a turn toward identifying the causes and possible solutions to the large scale environmental and social issues we currently face. Inspired by projects such as Crash Course or Veritasium on YouTube, the writings and work of scholars such as Lynn White, Leonardo Boff, Derek Muller, Bron Taylor or Bruno Latour as well as independent documentaries such as Bushman’s Secret, The Power of Community, 180* South or Fierce Light we see the potential in using modern technologies, medias and communication systems to start being platforms upon which we can promote collective learning and find solutions to the environmental and social crises that are on the brink of collapse.

This led us to having our personal interests and affinity for the natural world become a central theme in our media, using our work as a platform to grapple with issues, educate and inform larger audiences of the things we were learning and experiencing ourselves. Recently, we have shifted to an even more explicit focus of aiming our work at identifying and fostering conversation around topics we feel are needing more attention. Projects like META speak to narratives of social inequality and #revolutionaries (humorously) critiques the new culture of participation without critical understand of context. Our projects for 2016 now continue as primarily environmental and educational projects. Our photographic portfolio of work is going to be gradually released over the course of this year as a part of our project Film Photo Fridays in which you will be able to experience the unedited images that we have taken on 35mm film in the mountains, forests, oceans and lands around us. Efforts to create free Youtube based education videos on the South African school and university syllabus in English as well as other African languages are also in stages of pre-production. Lastly, we are launching a video series that consists of our documentations of organizations practicing conservation through education as do fieldwork and research trips in and around South Africa as part of my post-graduate research for the year.

Our hopes with making this media is twofold. Firstly, we would like to produce more media and discourse that is of local – South African – origin as we believe that there is a lack of contextually relevant content for a South African community. Secondly, we would like to produce interdisciplinary, multimedia based work that is accessible to a much larger audience in a manner that allows us to convey and potentially even impart our values, ethics, observations and suggested solutions about the related environmental and social issues that we are confronted with. This will hopefully speak to a South African audience first but will also be able to engage discourse that is occurring on a global level.

We truly love our work and conduct most of our projects on a foundation of interdisciplinary collaboration, working with other individuals in their retrospective fields of industry or experience. Often our media is created as a no-budget production but we hope that our work still meets a standard of ethical, emotional, intellectual and aesthetic standards.

Please do get in contact with us if you have projects you would like to join us on, or if you would like us to work on any of your projects with you.