Novel Ecosystem

Structure of 1m2in galvanized steel and transparent acrylic, led simulators of solar light, irrigation system and wild vegetation collected from an empty lot in the city of Porto (Fontainhas).



Novel Ecosystem: A unique assemblage of biota and environmental conditions that is the direct result of intentional or unintentional alteration by humans, i.e., human agency, sufficient to cross an ecological threshold that facilitates a new ecosystem trajectory and inhibits its return to a previous trajectory regardless of additional human intervention. The resulting ecosystem is self-sustaining in terms of species composition, structure, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem services. A defining characteristic of a novel ecosystem is a change in species composition relative to ecosystems present in the same biome prior to crossing a threshold.

Though this is a satisfying description of this new term, the concept of ‘Novel Ecosystem’ still generates some controversy, dealing with the spectrum of sites it includes and its value as a biome. Some definitions include large-scale non-direct human intervention, such as climate change, and others don’t. Though often broadly described as the natural assemblages of nature in the Anthropocene, the term does not include degraded ecosystems that may still be returned to previous historical composition, by conservation, preservation and rewilding techniques, and does not include actively design ecosystems like agricultural and recreational landscape. Most definitions refer to sites that can never be restored, such as cities, ex-agrarian areas and extraction sites. These ecosystems by themselves can only go forward, towards a new system. Because their constitution is often dominated by non-native and pioneer species they are frequently discarded as environmental trash. However some argue that some of these systems could represent a new value for the ecosystem for the services they provide, and should therefore be recognized and further studied.



from the series:
Every Square Meter Of The Earth

This world is getting smaller by the day. Our domestication of the planet, or rather the frantic conquest of every last bit of land, has squeezed out most of what could be named ‘wild’. And through this shrinking of habitat, accompanied by our ever more urban lives, we seem to have entered a state where the natural world is no longer familiar to us. No longer something we understand for what it thrives to be. We rather see it as something that feeds our consumption desires or something that we must desperately try to preserve as it is. These two reactions are completely comprehensible. The first as it creates better conditions for our species, the second, in reaction, for trying to avoid the absolute destruction of the earth’s ecosystem. But both perpetuate a very specific image of nature. An objectified nature, disconnected from our existence, and a ‘pure nature’, untouched, which at some point was perfect, and that we humans endangered. An image of nature that presents the possibility of modern day Edens, and the subsequent thrill of being able to preserve the last known paradises, while consuming others. But is our idea of nature truly capable of ignoring itself?
This exhibition explores our notion of nature along with the clash of the human world and the natural world, dealing with concepts such as natural and anti-natural, purity and reality, winners and losers, the condition of wilderness, depletion and abandonment, misplaced life, the systematic conquest of territories and the process of layering the new on top of the old.


May 2018, Every Square Meter Of The Earth, Galeria do Sol, Porto.