RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

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109 Co-production of knowledge with non-humans (3): Co-producing place with non-humans
Affiliation History and Philosophy of Geography Research Group
Participatory Geographies Research Group
Convenor(s) Owain Jones (Bath Spa University, UK)
Emma Roe (University of Southampton, UK)
Michelle Bastian (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Michael Buser (University of the West of England, UK)
Chair(s) Owain Jones (Bath Spa University, UK)
Timetable Wednesday 27 August 2014, Session 3 (14:40 - 16:20)
Room Electrical Engineering Building, Room 403a - DO NOT USE 2020
Session abstract This series of sessions will explore how the co-production of knowledge within (and between) communities is being expanded beyond narrowly human notions of community to take into account the ‘voices’, needs and agencies of non-humans. We seek to explore how co-production has been done (historical examples), is being done, and can be done (imagined futures), with panoplies of non-humans which range through animals, plants, technologies and materials within space-time in both topological and topographical formations. We feel that expanding the processes of knowledge creation through co-production is a necessary step in efforts to address the toxic nature/culture divide and in developing materialist techno-ecologicalisation of politics and ethics (Haraway, Latour, Bennett, Barad etc.). We need deeper engagements with the ecological (taken in its broadest sense), materialised processes which conjure communities into being, sustain them, set them together, apart, in conflict, and bring them down; and in how they might be reformed into more just configurations. We seek contributions which: report upon work that has sought to co-produce knowledge with non-humans; speculate (plan) conceptually and methodologically on how co-productions with non-humans of differing stripe might be done; stage dialogues between specialists in co-production and those specialising in the more-than-human (broadly conceived).
Linked Sessions Co-production of knowledge with non-humans (1): More-than-Human Bodily Entanglements: Boundaries, Interfaces, Knowers
Co-production of knowledge with non-humans (2): (Not) Seeing, Hearing, Showing Non-Humans
Co-production of knowledge with non-humans (4): Who Knows?: relocating participatory knowledges across human/non-human divides
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
Modelling an applied artful eco action multi-constituent methodology from within a small Irish forest.
Cathy Fitzgerald (National College of Art and Design, Ireland)
Since 2008 my ongoing eco art praxis involves interactions with a more-than-human forest community in rural South Carlow, Ireland in which I live. My art-led practice-theory research inquiry weaves my transdisciplinary, multi-constituent eco art praxis with new insights from Artful Action Research and other environmental epistemologies to explore a model of best practice in the emergent eco art field. I present and define an artful eco action praxis as one that artfully fosters dialectical cycles of multi-constituent actions and reflexivity which explores and enacts ecologicallly-based sustainability. This builds on new knowledge of Artful Action Research (Seeley and Reason, 2008; Seeley, 2011a,b) and intersecting eco-socio-political contexts. The primary aim of this type of praxis is to visualise, theorise and actualise realisations of mutual, deep sustainability and resilience that complement ecological science. I therefore discuss how this research enables new and valuable understandings and outcomes in the form of art-workings, writings, forest research and forest policies of importance to a specific bioregion in Ireland. Furthermore I explore how an artful eco action praxis model is a valuable applied ecosophical framework with reference to the related but differing ecosophical concepts of Arne Naess and Felix Guattari. This methodological framework can be utilised and modified by other practitioners, in other contexts and places, to address emergent eco-socio-political realities.
Sunken culture, vibrant nature: Gallery life in the Caribbean Sea
Felicity Picken (University of Tasmania, Australia)
Coalitions usually refer to alliances performed among individuals, groups, industry or sectors. They almost never include non-humans, being purified of things (Serres 2011). This paper will explore a recent artistic coalition that not only includes, but depends upon, the non-human world in the creative process. The undersea sculptures of de Caires Taylor form the Museo Subacuatico do Arte, located in the Caribbean Sea in the Gulf of Mexico. This museum doubles as both art gallery and artificial reef and this doubling occurs when marine-life colonises the art – becoming artists-in-residence – in a contract upon which the resilience of the venture relies. The process is animated by the assemblage and co-authoring of marine-life; politics; tourists and locals; culture; narratives; capitalism; hurricanes; history and ecology, all of which participate in the preservation of the natural reef, nourishment of the oceanic substratum and work of art. Marine-lives both produce and consume this art, decentring the artist ‘proper’ in a dance of worldmaking encounters (Haraway 2008) performed in difference and sometimes indifference. This paper will argue that important lessons can be learned from the stories these non-humans enable us to tell about creativity, partnering, production, resistance and change.
Aliveness machine, shadows and undercurrents: experimental data-activated sculptural works
Antony Lyons (-)
Jon Pigott (Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK)
The concept of the 'Aliveness Machines' emerged from a landscape-based artist residency, conducted by Lyons and Pigott throughout 2012, within the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Tasked with working in and around the River Torridge (including involvement of local schools and communities), we slowly familiarised ourselves with this place and its ecological character. Our primary aim was to harness environmental data to enable a meaningful portrayal of some of the hidden zones - the 'shadows and undercurrents' - in the landscape. Specifically, we monitored the situation of bats (the shadows), and the aquatic environment of the ecologically important, but seriously declining, salmon and freshwater mussel populations (the undercurrents). The 'Aliveness Machines' are kinetic sculptural works which are activated by environmental data – both live and recorded. With the assistance of the iDAT unit based at the University of Plymouth, we installed wireless micro-sensors at a number of sites in the river catchment area. Finally, within an off-site gallery setting, we translated or exposed the largely hidden activity (hidden at least to our human senses). Through kinetic sculptural animation, sound effects, light and shadow, we are attempting to ‘give voice’ to the changing levels, and complexity, of the 'aliveness' of these non-human ecosystem realms. The audience experience is multi-sensorial and holistically immersive; a deliberate avoidance of screen-based visualisations and texts. In this respect, our approach involves a form of 'intimate science', as described by Roger Malina (2009) “helping to make science intimate, sensual, intuitive”. In this presentation, we offer a snapshot of the evolving project, using photographic, video and sonic documentation.
Elephants, Mahouts, and Clandestine Mobilities in Southeast Asia
Jacob Shell (Temple University, USA)
This paper looks at the co-production of human-animal mobilities by domesticated elephants and elephant-riders (mahouts) in Southeast Asia, especially in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In this part of the world, humans use elephants for a variety of functions: for tourism, for religious ceremonies, for logging, and for off-road, cross-border, and floodtime transportation. The use of elephants for tourism, religious ceremonies and logging has tended to be more legible to and controllable by modern bureaucratic states. By contrast, the use of elephants for transportation purposes has been far more hidden, and has been, thus far, poorly understood by outside researchers, whether social scientists or conservationists. Focusing on archival case-studies and recent personal fieldwork conducted in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, this paper looks at the uses of transport elephants when -- due to natural disasters or political events or both -- modern road networks cannot be used. This paper also explores how elephants and mahouts co-develop a unique, shared geographic knowledge system for living with and moving through the sorts of wet and mountainous border landscapes which frustrate other modes of transportation. Finally, this paper investigates the ways in which mahout-elephant relations have adjusted to or become eroded by increasing urbanization throughout Southeast Asia