Artifact Title: Post Natural

Medium: Video

Creator: Center for Post-Natural History

Video Length: 1:29

Video Title: An Introduction to the Center for PostNatural History

Upload Year: 2012

Platform: Vimeo

Uploader: Rich Pell

Screenshot in Image: 1:23

Image Credit: Daphne Moss

TERA Curator: Hillary Kaell

Post NAtural

The Center for Post-Natural History is tongue-in-cheek, but it also prompts serious reflection about what is absent in classic Natural History museums. It brings to mind Richard White’s book The Organic Machine (1996), which argues that the Columbia river, from our perspective, has never been “natural” because humans have engineered it so long. The river is neither fully human-made nor fully organic. That makes sense for the Center for Post-Natural History, which says it tracks “the influence of human culture on evolution.” However, the term “post-natural” implies that there is something natural that becomes unnatural, or less-than-natural, once humans alter it. Their tagline implies a clean break: “That was then. This is now.” In fact, as White would argue, pure “nature” is all in our heads. Whenever humans make claims on spaces or other species we shape organic machines. The Post-Natural History website, at least as it’s presented online, also buries the other part of the equation: when we genetically modify species or engineer landscapes, we create deeply interactive experiences that change us too.