Lucy Helton (UK/USA)
Actions of Consequence
Actions of Consequence is a photographic construct of a fictional world. Stripped of the carpet of life, the planet I have created is reduced to strange geological landscapes that suggest a catastrophic past. At once deeply personal and dystopian, my work imagines the future Earth as a scarred, damaged, and fragile place in a way that mirrors my concerns about both my own past and the planet’s uncertain future.
My father inspired Actions of Consequence. A writer and staunch environmentalist, he is the author of a science fiction novel in which nearly all humans have left Earth and allowed the planet to turn into a wildlife reserve. Although his idea of Earth without humans is utopian, my imagined Earth without humans is quite different and takes a darker turn. By photographing and creating landscapes that are void of life, I send a warning of what is to come.
The Anthropocene is the informal geological term for the time period during which human activities had a dominant impact on the Earth’s ecosystems, leading up to what is being called the sixth mass extinction. What sets apart the sixth mass extinction from its predecessors is that it is the first mass extinction to have the proliferation of a single species, Homo sapiens, as the major agent, though some argue against human activity as the sole cause. Nevertheless, our overconsumption of resources appears to be stripping the Earth bare.
I believe human nature is inherently destructive. I don’t believe we will be able to stop our own inevitable extinction. However, like wildfires, destruction can be redemptive and even produce beautiful results. Once Earth is rid of humans, perhaps evolution will lead to a kind of restoration, despite my own grim vision of immediate destruction. All we can really know, though, is that the future is contingent on the present, and that it can be affected by what we do or don’t do now.
Born in London and based in New York, Lucy Helton received her M.F.A. in photography from Hartford Art School, Connecticut, in 2014. Her first artist’s book, Actions of Consequence (New York: Dashwood Books, 2014), was nominated for the 2014 First Book Award from MACK publishers in London; it was short-listed for the Fotobook festival Dummy Award Kassel 2015 in Germany and the 2015 Anamorphosis Prize, juried by Charlotte Cotton, John Phelan, and Anouk Kruithof. It was also included in the 2015 Best Photo Book selection made by the Humble Arts Foundation.
Her most recent book, Transmission (New York: Silas Finch, 2015),is printed on thermal fax paper and housed in a tube. Created as a communication from our future to our recent past, the book was short-listed for the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation’s 2015 First Photobook Prize. She is deeply immersed in the photobook industry and has participated in various book fairs and festivals in New York,Los Angeles, London, Germany, and France.