This thesis investigates people’s innate urge to romanticize nature, how this behavior leads to their environment’s destruction, and why this cycle is necessary for the progression of humanity and their planet.

A limited print version of this thesis was designed as a newspaper for use in an interactive experience, inspired by this research. The form is also meant to be an example of how destruction leads to progression: the more its print versions are read, the more they deteriorate.

A limited print version of this thesis was designed as a newspaper for use in an interactive experience, inspired by this research. The form is also meant to be an example of how destruction leads to progression: the more its print versions are read, the more they deteriorate.


Table of Contents


Abstract

Bashed Out investigates humans’ innate urge to romanticize nature, how this behavior leads to their environment’s destruction, and why this cycle is necessary for the progression of humanity and their planet. The research begins by reviewing how human's dependence on their world grew beyond survival needs and into an infatuation with it. Following this, artwork from the Romanticism movement is argued to exemplify the evolution of three behaviors—the act to frame, to indulge, and to domesticate—which have shaped human’s damaging relationship with nature today.

In studying this relationship, two scientist's opposing views of how humanity could sustain its growing population are used to allude to why the ecological crisis continues and has yet to be solved. Although humanity still lacks one solution to address their ecological crisis, a collection of sustainable initiatives across various industries show how tension between opposing sides, striving for the same goal, can lead to advancement. This unexpected path to progression is compared to the serendipitous process that leads designers to new ideas. The tension built from people’s continued pursuit of different endeavors is advocated for the evolution of human and nature.

Keywords: destruction, progression, nature, serendipity, romanticization

Preface: Decayed By Design

Much of my teenage years was spent exploring, documenting, and publicizing the stories of abandoned spaces. From a forest sprouting on a former hotel’s roof to iridescent stones shining under a quarry’s water, I found an appreciation in all forms of natural decay. As I created an archive of these spaces, I realized how I was innately drawn to romanticize environments, often capturing scenes of how the Earth reclaimed its land.

Fast forward several years, and although I’ve become even more fascinated with abandoned spaces, I’ve largely refrained from continuing to publicize them. Following these spaces’ recent history, I noticed how the more they were publicized, the more they were destroyed by others also wanting to experience them. I watched repeatedly as beautiful and historic places, which could have been restored, were further trashed until they were destroyed beyond recovery. It seemed that in trying to appreciate the world, humans had a tendency to destroy it.

As I began my studies at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague and found my way to Design Research—a field of study observing people’s behaviors and patterns to better understand and improve the world—this realization remained in the back of my head. With my new perspective and acquired skills I wanted to learn more: how does our urge to romanticize the world lead to its destruction?