Human beings have always had an ambivalent relationship with this planet. We are awed by the earth’s beauty: we paint it, we photograph it. Yet we are also always transforming it, shaping it to suit our needs, exploiting and destroying parts of it too.
Artists express their relationship with the earth in different ways. We have seen that some artists depict the landscape; they try to capture its likeness or its moods. Other artists choose to respond to it with a physical intervention that alters an environment, and therefore alters the way people behave or interact with it.
Some of these artists work by radically transforming either natural spaces or spaces created by humans. Others use natural materials to make a very subtle mark on the environment.
The idea of making large works of land art arose in the 1960s. These are constructed with elements of the landscape itself, and then generally left to change and erode under natural conditions – an ongoing process that forms part of the process of the work.