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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.


Next Nature

baby-on-phone_koert_van_mensvoort Image: Van Mensvoort
Nature Changes Along With Us

We debate saving nature, we dream about escaping to nature, but rarely do we ask “What is nature?” In an era when the influence of humanity is impossible to escape, our established notion of nature must be reconsidered.

We must no longer see ourselves as the anti-natural species that merely threatens and eliminates nature, but rather as catalysts of evolution. With our urge to design our environment, we cause the rising of a next nature that is wild and unpredictable as ever.

What is Next Nature?

What is Next Nature?

Where technology and nature are traditionally seen as opposed, they now appear to merge or even trade places. Koert Van Mensvoort lectures on our changing notion of Nature.

Next Nature Introduction

This project is about Nature’s brand image.  One might surmise that “Nature,” being 100 percent all-natural, can’t have any brand image.  The facts suggest otherwise. Try it for yourself: tell a friend that something seemingly 100 percent natural is actually “96 percent natural.”  Not a great difference, apparently, yet a profound unease arises.  That unease is the subject of the many provocative essays and remarkable graphics on NextNature.net

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We rarely allow ourselves any tender reverential, nurturing attitude towards technology.

— Bruce Sterling

Ancient Man Impacted Environment Already

The human environmental impact on our planet is hardly underestimated nowadays. Scientist agree humans are to blame for Global Warming – some are already dreaming up scenario’s of geo-engineering to undo the damage. Untouched old nature is almost nowhere to be found anymore besides perhaps some small areas on the South pole, in the deep sea or if one looks up at the stars – although the brighter ones may well be satellites. “We were here”, is written all over. So when did the writing begin? Much earlier than thought.

According to the common perception the human impact on the environment is fairly recent and thought to have started in concert with the 19th centuries industrial revolution. Presumably, in earlier times humans lived in harmony with their environment. That popular romantic view however, is increasingly being challenged.

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Ancient Man Impacted Environment Already
The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact

Is human activity altering the planet on a scale comparable to major geological events of the past? Scientists are now considering whether to officially designate a new geological epoch to reflect the changes that homo sapiens have wrought: the Anthropocene.

The Holocene — or “wholly recent” epoch — is what geologists call the 11,000 years or so since the end of the last ice age. As epochs go, the Holocene is barely out of diapers…

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The World without Technology

I remember the smoke the most. That pungent smell permeating the camps of tribal people. Everything they touch is infused with the lingering perfume of smoke — their food, shelter, tools, and art. Everything. Even the skin of the youngest tribal child emits smokiness when they pass by. I can hold a memento from my visits decades later and still get a whiff of that primeval scent. Anywhere in the world, no matter the tribe, steady wafts of smoke drift in from the central fire. If things are done properly, the flame never goes out. It smolders to roast bits of meat, and its embers warm bodies at night. The fire’s ever-billowing clouds of smoke dry out sleeping mats overhead, preserve hanging strips of meat, and drive away bugs at night. Fire is a universal tool, good for so many things, and it leaves an indelible mark of smoke on a society with scant other technology.

Besides the smoke I remember the immediacy of experience that opens up when the mediation of technology is removed in a rough camp. Living close to the land as hunter-gatherers do, I got colder often, hotter more frequently, soaking wet a lot, bitten by insects faster, more synchronized to rhythm of the day and seasons. Time seemed abundant. I was shocked at how quickly I could dump the cloud of technology in my modern life for a cloud of smoke.

But I was only visiting. Living in a world without technology was a refreshing vacation, but the idea of spending my whole life there was, and is, unappealing. Like you, or almost anyone else with a …

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Our technological environment has become so complex, omnipresent and uncontrollable: a Nature of its own Our technological environment has become so complex, omnipresent and uncontrollable: a Nature of its own

Razorius Gilletus – On the Origin of a Next Species

Is the evolution of the single bladed razor into an exorbitant five–bladed vibrating gizmo the outcome of human needs, or is there another force in play? Say hello to Razorius Gillettus, one of the new species emerging from our technoeconomic ecology. Proof that evolution should be understood as a universal principle rather than a DNA-specific process. Yet if this is the case, how can we become responsible stewards of these new, non-genetic forms of life?


My first razor I got when I was fifteen. It consisted of two blades on a simple metal stick and I remember it gave me a really close and comfortable shave. In the twenty years that have passed since my first shave, I’ve used nine different models of razors. This morning I shaved …

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Next Nature Services

Intentionality separates culture from nature. A dog is intentional, a fox is not; a park is intentional, a forest is not. Since trash, ruined buildings, and automated computer programs are unintentional, they are also a type of nature. Nature provides human society with valuable ‘ecosystem services’ such as water purification or erosion control. Next nature provides ecosystem services of its own, although they might not be what we expect.


2010 was the International Year of Biodiversity. The United Nations introduced …

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