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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Melting polar bear reveals a metal skeleton

Melting polar bear reveals a metal skeleton

Unsure how this melting polar bear ice sculpture created by artist Mark Coreth fits in Next Nature mythology. The art piece was presented last week in Copenhagen and is sponsored by WWF to create an awareness on the human impact on the climate.

Once the ice sculpture has melted – which should take a day or ten – a metal skeleton remains that remotely reminds of the metal skeleton of the Terminator. Should we read this as a symbol suggesting that biological species are being be replaced by technological species? Anyhow it does provoke one to reflect upon the question if and what species would take the polar bears place if it were to become extinct.

Related: The World without Technology, The Order Electrus, Killer Robots. Thanks Dreg.


  1. Polar bears are the new panda bears.

  2. al

    “Should we read this as a symbol suggesting that biological species are being be replaced by technological species?” uh, no.

  3. Orestis Tsinalis

    @ al : Even if the sculpture was not conceived so as to imply that “biological species are being replaced by technological species”, this is certainly happening whether we understand it or not. And, in my opinion, there is a subtle connection of this “replacement” with the actual extinction of animals. How can we design for a world we don’t even know about? How can we pursue environmentally responsible strategies when we live away from all this biological world that we must mimic in its sustainability?
    PS: I tried this: I google-imaged “blackberry”, and the actual fruit appeared on page 14. Pretty explicit, ain’t it?

  4. @Orestis Tsinalis: But have You tried going to the woods to do a search query on blackberry? Would the result be the same?

    I think nature has become a subset of the “real world”. Virtual things are real as well. One could argue about for example Facebook’s way of communicating, which is virtual. But actually it’s real as well, just not the same as we are used to. It’s not just mimicking. Talking in a face-to-face method has become a subset of communicating. Things broadens up. Whether it’s good or bad, one has to choose oneself.

  5. Orestis Tsinalis

    @infotermoo: It’s not about what I do or what you do. You may can, but how many people can recognize a blackberry in the woods? How many people visit the woods anyway?
    Cyberspace is real, OK. I use it, and in fact, this is how we came to talk to each other right now, which is great. But I am skeptical about whether things broaden up or narrow down.

  6. jose

    brutal!!!! magnífico!!!

  7. Jayson

    There is an error on the interpretation of the sculpture in this article. The metal skeleton does not resemble any sci-fi movies, but in fact is a model of the actual polar bear’s skeleton, it is by no mean trying to represent that “the biological species are being replaced by technological species” (fyi. that i believe do not exist.)…

    The sculpture is made to represent the potential extinction that polar bear is facing because of the melting of ice shelf due to global warming. Hence global warming = extinction of Polar Bear!! Hence the metal skeleton of the polar bear as a representation fossil.

    Further information can be found on:

    I find it fascinating how this article’s author can interpret this sculpture so wrongly

  8. Brad

    I agree with your interpretation of the artwork. I cannot believe the author could so wrongly interpret the sculpture. What’s even more astonishing is how the majority of comments have picked up the incorrect interpretation and have run with it. A melting polar bear sculpture revealing the skeleton within has not one thing to do with virtual reality, Blackberrys, or Facebook. To view the sculpture in this way completely removes it from any reality-based context.

  9. I had a Polar Bear as a pet when I was a kid!

  10. @Jayson @Brad: I realize I have interpreted the sculpture differently than the artist presumably intended it. I have done so deliberately, not in error. At least for myself, this interpretation was more interesting than the default one, which I get, but also find rather sentimental and superficial. I am not trying to ridicule the work, however. I like the work.
    Especially good art pieces have a certain openness that stimulate the imagination of the beholder and evoke for new interpretations the artist himself might not even have thought of. I understand my interpretation doesn’t fit the agenda of WWF, but as this website is all about man made technologies cause for the rising of a next nature, it surely fits to be discussed here.

  11. Brad


    I think you are being disingenuous to claim you are not ridiculing the work (and people who don’t see it your way), when you say the “default” interpretation is “sentimental and superficial.”

    I also find it tiresome when you use such a loaded word, saying that the WWF has an “agenda.” It takes quite a bit of mental gymnastics to interpret the work the way you have done, which–perhaps–might betray the fact that you have an agenda yourself.

    Interpreting the sculpture to fit within the context of Next Nature is thought provoking, but, in my opinion, runs the risk of missing the larger point entirely. If the default reading is sentimental and superficial, yours, at least to me, is intellectual and artificial.

    I am far from an environmental zealot who would protest in Copenhagen, but climate change is real and it is happening. I guess it’s fashionable to be aloof and say that caring for the environment is quaint. The good news is that when Holland, Venice, and Miami are underwater, the internet will still work. If only polar bears could use Twitter….

  12. @Brad: I hope you agree that if we are to cope with the phenomenon of Global Warming – which I agree is real – we have to put some intellectual effort in understanding the forces operating behind it. You are welcome to call my reading of the artwork intellectual and artificial. You are correct there and I’d like to add that my reading is also highly speculative. I was indeed trying to read a deeper meaning in the image and share that with the readers. Not my intention to ridicule the work: It is a smart and powerful image. Just because I am emphasizing that Global Warming has winners and losers, doesn’t mean I don’t care about the losers.

    See also: http://www.nextnature.net//?p=2813

  13. Brad

    Fair enough. It’s nice to have an intellectual discussion with someone as thoughtful as yourself. Now if only more people were as willing to do so, I’m sure we’d find a substitute for fossil fuels rather quickly.
    Regarding the sculpture, one of the problems I do have with the work is that it’s more a piece of advertising than a sculpture. Its message is rather clear, as you point out, and I suppose the political debate around climate change makes it hard to read it purely as art.

  14. @Brad We have thought up a term for that: ARTVERTISING ;)

  15. Elias

    If polar bears do go extinct the animal that will take it place it be nothing, being that the polar bear has 40% same DNA as the Relative polar bear, making it impossible to remake polar bears, thats why we converse these friendly creatures.

  16. Reason

    For me it shows how rapidly the polar regions are melting, and how soon, the polar bear will just be another fossil in a museum. The bones could be metal because of the fact a skeleton lasts forever, but it is more likely that they are metal because it is a suitable material. However, I do feel that the author doesn’t know what he is talking about – when have you seen a robotic polar bear?

  17. Bullshit Detector