"The preternatural (from the Latin præter and naturae) is that which appears outside or beyond the normal and natural. In theology, the term preternatural is often used to distinguish marvels or deceptive trickery, often attributed to witchcraft or demons, from the divine and sacred power of the genuinely supernatural. Upon the arrival of early modern science, the concept of the preternatural was used to refer to abnormalities and strange phenomena that seemed to transgress the working laws of nature, but which were not associated with magic or witchcraft. The terms preternatural and supernatural originally acquired distinct definitions within the ancient religious movement of Gnosticism, but have been since incorrectly equated as interchangeable phrases.
Pre-12th Century Gnostics distinguished between the natural, the preternatural, and the supernatural. Natural describes all that belongs to the material world and adheres to strict physical and scientific laws. Preternatural is the action that goes beyond the structure of the nature of the material universe. Supernatural is the action that goes beyond any created nature, belonging only to the divine.
The photographic and sculptural work in this exhibition falls within the preternatural, occupying space and time suspended between the mundane and the miraculous. Depicting and embodying flora, fauna, and landscape that appear to exist beyond the natural, the exhibition also comments on a number of pressing issues of our time, from global warming and rising sea levels, to genetic mutation and bioengineering, to survival and adaptation."
Exhibit photography courtesy of Scott Chernis.