The zoological garden has taken many forms throughout history and its function as a source and symbol of pleasure has sustained its relevance into the present day. Like all gardens, the zoo has been an object of consumption – a curation of nature’s amenity to humankind. As consumer attitudes have changed, so too has the cultural and aesthetic image of the zoo. In contemporary discussion, animal welfare awareness and a changing public conscience have driven the transformation of zoological gardens, catalysing a new design approach of “natural immersion.”
ZooSubverted proposes an inversion of zoological precedence, where power hierarchies between captive animal and human observer are destabilized and redefined, forging a new landscape order. Here the existing character of site and ecology are engaged as instruments of animal enrichment, where conditions are intensified and mapped upon the physical substrate of the cage, for species to be stimulated by, react to and exert control over. “Cages” are rendered as picturesque, even sublime abstractions of wild ecosystems, consumed by the human observer via a jarring and uncomfortable lens. The more seductive, rich or sublime the visual image, the more the landscape program imposes itself upon the human body.