Margaret Noble’s Elsewhere, publishing in Digital America Issue 21, is an interactive website link compiled of a live camera feed depicting more than forty different nature landscapes worldwide. Each time the viewer refreshes the page, a different landscape appears in the rose-tinted, oval camera lens. The viewer is transported to a location of immersive nature with each refresh. These landscapes range from an eagle’s nest in the trees, open fields of grass, giraffes in the savanna, seals lounging by the water, a coral reef at the bottom of the ocean, and more.
I was amazed by the piece, and more specifically the connection between my computer screen the physical, current natural world and myself. Elsewhere intertwines two contradicting phenomena, the environment and digital imagery, into an interactive art piece. I felt as if I was transported into a world beyond my room. I envied the animals and nature that were peacefully existing. The physical world beyond the lens was unbothered, lively, and free, as my head was racked with anxieties about final assignments and exams. As I was taken out of my own body, invited into the atmosphere that Noble displayed to viewers through a tiny computer screen, I dismissed and forgot my problems.
As I became fully immersed in this piece of artwork, I zoned out the distractions within the classroom around me, and solely focused on the live feeds of nature that were displayed. This representation of the earth and the natural world allowed me to see beyond myself and the digital world we live in. As our occupations, schooling, and everyday activities have largely moved indoors onto computer screens, Noble added digital exploration of nature occurring simultaneously alongside us. She opened my eyes to the greater world at large and the beautiful simplicity of it all. I was transported from living in our minds that revolve around our to-do lists, homework, and assignments, to the scenery of the authentic natural world, both through the use of technology.
As I was quickly refreshing the page, excited to see the next live feed, the reddish-pink-colored tint over every video struck my attention. This could just be an effect that is caused by the specific cameras used to record each live feed, however, I immediately thought of the metaphor of seeing the world through “rose-colored glasses.” The phrase suggests that someone who sees the world this way is not seeing things as they really are but rather seeing them in a more favorable or romanticized way. I couldn’t help but think of this term when I was looking at these beautiful scenes of nature because it accurately depicted the beauty, hope, and simplicity of nature. Intentional or not, the rose-colored tint added to the allurement of the live feeds. While staring into the simplicity of each landscape, memorized by the elegance and rawness of nature, the viewer is impelled to romanticize the video. These rose-colored glasses that shade over the computer screen, transporting the viewer into a different world with each click of a button, allow one to immerse themselves in the peacefulness of nature while chaos stirs within our social world. The rose-colored tint symbolizes the optimistic view we have (and should have) over the physical world, and Noble illustrates this idea perfectly.
Check out Elsewhere by Margaret Noble.
Check out our Q + A with Margaret Noble.
Art Editorial/Curatorial Caroline Stevens is a sophomore at the University of Richmond, majoring in sociology and leadership. She is a member of the women’s lacrosse at Richmond. She enjoys traveling, writing, spending time with friends, and running.