John Mack
John in front of Everest Author: Penpa

John Mack

MR’21 – Artist

humanity between digital and natural

meet john

Thinker and visual artist John Mack exhibits the poetry of nature as a counterpoint toward a world that is every day becoming all the more dependent on digital devices and algorithmic feeds. In 2021 Mack founded Life Calling Initiative, a not-for-profit aimed at preserving humanity’s awe and connection to the natural world during an age of exponential digital distraction. Among the initiatives is A Species Between Worlds, Our Nature Our Screens, an interactive photography exhibition that questions how a balance between our connection to nature and today’s growing device-dependence might be attained. The initiative will also be publishing a series of books, essays, and poetry on the topic. Mack was born in New York City and is currently based in Sevilla, Spain.

humanity between digital and natural
Nominated by: Richard Wiese FN'89
Class of 2022 Location USA
John Mack drawing at the Gates of the Arctic
John Mack drawing at the Gates of the Arctic Author: Nate Hansen

My work concerns the preservation and nurturing of the innate human drive to connect to the natural world. Today’s age marks a time when awe for digital devices is rapidly replacing awe for nature. The very drivers of exploration—curiosity, wonder, excitement, and novelty—are being directed more and more toward the virtual landscapes of the digital realm, rendering nature a mere sideshow. Unfortunately, it seems that the dawn of the virtual universe within the flat screen goes hand in hand with the dusk of the depths of nature around us and within us. What is to become of exploration if a balance between the natural and the virtual is not attained? Toward which universe will the future of exploration bend?

“Preserving and nurturing our connection to nature goes hand in hand with the preservation of our humanity, the preservation of the human soul.”

- John Mack
The Canyonlands
The Canyonlands Author: John Mack

It is my overarching aspiration to help members of society to live fulfilled lives in the digital age while retaining their humanity and personal autonomy. This aspiration is rooted in the awareness that digital devices can do tremendous good and enable progress, but should be used as tools under our control, not the other way around. Achieving this vision goes far beyond the sounding of an alarm. I work to cultivate the remembrance of nature’s importance in the human endeavor. Preserving and nurturing our connection to nature goes hand in hand with the preservation of our humanity, the preservation of the human soul.

In order to co-create this vital balance between the natural world and future, virtual landscapes, raising awareness is essential. This will be achieved through a diverse set of tools and activities, including, but not limited to, awareness campaigns, education, art, lectures and programming. Our connection to the wonders of nature—to the depths of our very selves—is at stake.

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