“Go outside. It’s good for you,” replies photographer Lucas Foglia when asked what he has learned (and what he hopes others will learn) from his series Human Nature. Currently on display at Foam Museum, Amsterdam, and recently published into a book by Nazraeli Press, the series is at times genuinely breathtaking in its portrayal of stories linking people, nature and science.
Lucas spends his time travelling the world taking photographs but is currently based in San Francisco. Despite this, it was his childhood on a small farm, third miles east of New York City that inspired Human Nature. “The forest that bordered the farm was a wild place to play and was ignored by our neighbours who commuted to Manhattan. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy flooded our fields and blew down the oldest trees in the woods,” he recalls. In the hurricane’s wake, Lucas witnessed increasing coverage on the news from scientists linking the storm to climate change caused by human activity. “I realised that if humans are changing the weather, then there is no place on Earth unaltered by people,” he tells It’s Nice That.
From this moment, Lucas set about documenting cities, forests, farms, deserts, ice fields and oceans as well as government programmes that bring people back into contact with nature, all at a time when Americans “on average, spend 93 percent of their lives indoors.” Human Nature also features neuroscientists researching the beneficial effects of spending time outside and climate scientists measuring the degree to which human activity affects the atmosphere.
Human Nature is both shocking and beautiful as a series. It flits between images of lava cascading into the ocean in Hawai’i and the “living walls” of urban Singapore, always presenting a complex meeting of people and their surroundings. “I want my photographs to challenge the concept that humans and nature operate in opposition, while simultaneously highlighting the relentlessly uneasy, absurdly comedic integrations of our technologies in the natural world,” Lucas explains.
As a body of work, Human Nature is a rarity in that it truly has something to say. The images are provocative and start conversations, whether it be because of their candour or their optimism. “We’re part of nature,” Lucas offers, adding that, “even with all our technology, we are vulnerable to the storms, droughts, heat waves and freezes that result from climate change. So support science, programmes, and policies that work towards a healthy environment – it is both a human right and our responsibility.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.