International Conference of Historical Geographers 2015

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70 Field experiments: collaborative practices in art and environment (1)
Convenor(s) Bergit Arends (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Laura Cameron (Queen's University, Canada)
Chair(s) Bergit Arends (Royal Holloway, University of London, UK)
Laura Cameron (Queen's University, Canada)
Timetable Tuesday 07 July 2015, Timeslot 3 (14:15 - 16:00)
Room Royal School of Mines Lecture Theatre 1.31
Session abstract Historical geographers have long engaged with art practices and increasingly seek to explore new participatory, active and dialogic models of knowledge co-production and collaboration. In this session we aim to highlight some on-going artist and geographer/scientist collaborations and provide a forum for the discussion of: the nature of collaboration and 'participation'; approaches to place, representation and environmental change; experimental fieldwork and the research process; the role of history and the geographical/ecological imagination; new forms of temporal, sonic and visual engagement; the challenges and possibilities of creative co-production; and, related prospects for historical geography 'at large'. In the first session collaborative teams will present current research projects situated within Manitoulin Island (Canada), Alice Holt experimental forest (England), the city of Calgary (Canada), and Scottish coastal environments. The themes raised will then be explored further in the roundtable with artists and historical geographers involved in researching and representing the visual and sonic ecologies of places and the modes of listening, visualising, recording, and presenting dynamic environmental phenomena. There is an associated study visit to the Natural History Museum on Wednesday 8th July.
Linked Sessions Field experiments: collaborative practices in art and environment (2)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details:
Cutting lines through the landscape: knowledge production via geographical/arts crossovers
Michael Belmore (Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Canada)
Sophie Anne Edwards (Queen’s University, Canada / 4elements Living Arts, Canada)
Geographical knowledge production increasingly draws upon collaboration between arts practitioners and traditional social science researchers. The purposes of such engagements sometimes specifically work to heal the rift between art and science, and challenge dominant, masculinist practices that privilege product over process; yet, creative practices can simply provide another method of producing research findings. In the context of creating art or being a practitioner there is an investment in the process as well as the product, is there a similar vein in geographical research? These collaborations present potentially rich sources of knowledge co-production, but can also point to fundamental issues in geographical research, and the ‘disciplining’ of creative language. Using the case study of The Bonnie Blink Project – a community-based geography/art collaboration to research land use history from pre-contact to the contemporary time frame in Northern Ontario, Canada – this presentation draws out some of the fundamental questions we need to consider when engaging in cross-discipline collaborations between arts and social science research. What are the benefits in such collaborations, and for whom? What forms and methods of research are recognized, and how? Can knowledge production driven by fundamentally different value systems ever evade problematic power relations? How can ephemeral, intuitive, and effusive arts methods be recognized by findings-focused academic research?
Ruth Jarman (Semiconductor)
Joe Gerhardt (Semiconductor)
Semiconductor is UK artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt. In 2014 we were commissioned by the Jerwood Open Forest to produce Cosmos, a wooden public sculpture realised through a process of making scientific data tangible. Working with Forestry Commission scientist Matthew Wilkinson we acquired a years’ worth of data collected on his Flux Tower at Alice Holt experimental forest, measuring carbon dioxide, temperature, wind and water vapour: this data forms the basis of the sculpture. With this work we are considering scientific data as a representation of nature. We are interested in the divide between how science represents the physical world and how we experience it. Through a process of re-contextualising the data it becomes abstract in form and meaning, taking on sculptural properties. The sculptural forms become unreadable within the context of science, yet become a physical form we can see, touch, experience and read in a new way. Humanising the data in this way offers a new perspective of the natural world it is documenting, introducing a new visual experience. We will talk about how we researched, developed and realised this work.
Tristan Surtees (Sans façon)
Charles Blanc (Independent Scholar)
Paul Fesko (The City of Calgary - Water Resources, Canada)
Eric Laurier (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Artist and architect duo Sans façon (Tristan Surtees and Charles Blanc) explore, through their art, the relationship between people and places. They work internationally on projects ranging from ephemeral performances and permanent pieces in public spaces, to developing and implementing strategies involving artists in the rethinking and re-qualification of specific places. The majority of their work renews awareness and tempts interaction with the surroundings and is developed in close collaboration with communities, organisations and individuals including City councils, theatre companies, architects and composers. Their current project Watershed+ originated from the desire to strengthen the connection between the public and their watershed – natural and constructed. Unique throughout North America, Watershed+ establishes a standard by which to work, where shared perspectives, creative and professional, find common ground. Hosted by the Water Services within Utilities and Environment Protection (UEP) department of the City of Calgary, Watershed+ represents a major step in implementing new working methods and processes by embedding artists and, more specifically, their creative processes within the City’s works from the conception stage of projects onwards.
The Salisbury Archive re-viewed: observing environmental change in British landscape
Chrystel Lebas (Independent Artist)
Mark Spencer (Natural History Museum, UK)
The Natural History Museum holds a beguiling collection of previously undocumented landscape images taken by British botanist and ecologist Sir Edward James Salisbury, who was Director of Kew Gardens from 1943 to 1956. Photographer and filmmaker Chrystel Lebas, botanists Kath Castillo and Mark Spencer, both from the Natural History Museum London, started to jointly trace this important collection of over 1400 images, which were assembled in the first third of the twentieth century. They are now co-interpreting, cataloguing and curating this collection. The project’s core is a comparative landscape and botanical study with observations taken in the period 2011 to 2014 and from nearly 90 years ago, focusing on Scotland and Norfolk. We critically contextualise the project methodologies of the individual contributors through the transitions from archive to field, to the studio, and the museum. We will reflect on the interactions between landscape and specific plants in this project, and make a qualitative, relational analysis between humans, plants, and environment in Salisbury’s time and now. This project provides an opportunity for people to engage in environmental change. The research outcomes and photographic works will be curated within the museum, and exhibited and published to make the outcomes accessible to a wider public.