RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2014

RGS-IBG Logo
Add to my calendar:    Outlook   Google   Hotmail/Outlook.com   iPhone/iPad   iCal (.ics)

Please note that some mobile devices may require third party apps to add appointments to your calendar


289 Geoaesthetics (3): Experimental Geographies: art, environment and co-production
Affiliation Geo: Geography and Environment
Convenor(s) Miriam Burke (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Sasha Engelmann (University of Oxford, UK)
Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Chair(s) Sasha Engelmann (University of Oxford, UK)
Timetable Thursday 28 August 2014, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Room Electrical Engineering Building, Room 403b - DO NOT USE 2019
Session abstract This session explores how creative and artistic practices engaging with the environment co-produce geographical knowledge, and how collaboration between artists, geographers and scientists might facilitate these practices.
Linked Sessions Geoaesthetics (1): Co-producing art: environment, matter and things
Geoaesthetics (2): Art and Environmental Change, co-producing knowledges
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2014@rgs.org
The art of landscape from a geographical perspective
Natasha Hall (University of the Balearic Islands, Spain)
The pace of life and the perception of place is changing at a phenomenal speed and suddenly ´we live in a techno-nature in which everything interacts with everything. Traditional frontiers such as the distinction between human and non-human or the opposition between natural and artificial entities are blurred. (1)´Mixed reality can be described as the merging of real and virtual worlds which co-exist and interact within real time. How will this affect the Landscape genre as we transition into the dimension of merged realities? Casey describes how ´the landscape painter operates like a geographer while in the midst of nature and only fully assumes the role of painter in the sanctity of the studio.´ (2)

Subsequently it seems that ´the physical sciences have given new dimension to the arts´ interest in the landscape. They invite artists to focus on that which is too small, too big or too fleeting to be seen.´(3) I propose that the layering of information will continue to increase to the extent that the painting becomes timelessly rooted to place, essentially transcending the moment in favour of a panoramic view of the landscape through time.
The New Weathermen
David Benque (Independent Designer / Researcher)
In the face of impending climate crises, environmentalists are becoming increasingly polarised in their ideas and beliefs. Bio-Conservatives argue for a curbing of consumption, a return to Nature and are suspicious of new technologies. Techno-Progressives on the other hand adopt an optimistic trust in progress, and promise to solve problems with newer and better technologies.
However, a number of emerging factors suggest possible alternatives for the relationship between environmentalism and science. Among these are the DIYBIO or Biopunk movements and the campaign for open access to science, as well as efficient, headless and cell-based networks of activists such as Anonymous.
This project explores relationships between green ideology and science and how an alternative to current options might manifest itself. The New Weathermen is a fictional group of activists who embrace Synthetic Biology to push for radical environmental change. Challenging the borders between activism and crime, their actions aim to disrupt the status quo and propagate an ambitious vision for the greater good. Deliberately radical and ambiguous, they provide a starting point for discussion about our existing beliefs and ideologies.

The project consists of the group's manifesto and a series of test rigs which reflect much bigger, radical and slightly deluded ambitions.
From art to aesthetics in geographic practice
Nina Williams (University of Bristol, UK)
Given the increasing turn to art, not as a textual source but as a form of empirical research in geography, this paper addresses how we understand aesthetics in an effort to explore, not what is or can be replicated in a particular art form, but that which gives art it’s continual and diverse interest for experimental research methods. Understood as a process rather than as a static denominator in the world, aesthetics can account for a diversity of human and non­human roles in the co­production of artistic outputs. This is an understanding for which the philosophy of Felix Guattari plays a vital role, alerting us to the transversality of an ethico­aesthetics of life. Thus turning to aesthetics instead of art as geographic practice, can support an engagement with the processes rather than the results of artistic activity. As such, the paper attends to creative practices of walking which, as an activity in momentum, can reveal the processual nature of aesthetic emergence. In exploring the aesthetic co­production of walking I suggest that aesthetics, instead of art, perhaps provides a better route into experimental research, one in which the potential of creativity is extended beyond the typical art space, and can be recognised in terms of the continual constitution of creative activities in the world.
Artist exploring physical and emotional geography
Luce Choules (Independent Artist)
Artists are now re-imagining traditional undertaking of fieldwork. This paper discusses artists who use fieldwork in their practice, both as a method for creating and documenting events, and a means for making works and sharing outcomes – their activities underpinned by observing social movement, interpreting data and mapping co-ordinates, their research intertwined with practice and delivered through collaboration with others.
The intention is to explore and consider the geographic potential of artist-led fieldwork, and the experience and meaning of these practices to contribute to our collective understanding of place. Here, geography provides a framework with reference points that include location and event. In placing fieldwork in the context of shared geographies I highlight its ability to form new networks, instigate conversations with the land, map human activity, and generate curated places.
Through case studies, I focus on how artists use fieldwork to enter and temporarily occupy landscapes through multimedia, installation and performance, making new places for others. I look at the notion of artist as creator of new geographical access points to places, inviting an involved and curious audience and exposing them to experiential and inferential ideas. For the purposes of the conference, I will discuss fieldwork specifically in the processes and works of two contemporary artists, Neal White and Emma Smith.
Speculative futures and serious possibility
Justin Westgate (University of Wollongong, Australia)
Climate change has emerged as the meta issue of our time, impacting on not just the material reality of modern life but challenging its ideological foundations. It forces us to reconsider entanglements of human and nature, and indeed the potential impacts of novel and no-analogue material conditions. Such ‘unnatural’ futures call upon us to imagine new modes and configurations of response. In doing so we need to shift ontological thinking outside the rational or modern. The creative arts offers an avenue for this, opening up the exploration of new methodologies for producing knowledge, new modes of encountering and understanding the world, as well as engagement with wider publics. This paper examines the use of creative and speculative thinking as a way of grappling with uncertain futures. In particular it looks at experimental approaches such as the use of diegetic prototyping and design fiction that employ radical imagination, materialised possibility and performative modes of engagement. It considers the tensions and possibilities that are mobilised by such ‘radical’ practices, not just for social sciences but in bringing a generative agency to thinking about human-nature engagement and rethinking what adapting to this ‘new normal’ might mean.