Inverted Landscapes: Photomedia and the More-than-Representational
AffiliationVictorian College of the Arts
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Rebecca Najdowski
The Anthropocene casts a long shadow over this project. "Inverted Landscapes: Photomedia and the More-than-Representational" is a response to the need, brought on by the climate crisis, to conceptualise nature differently. Composed of equal parts creative work and written exegesis, this practice-led PhD fractures the logic of pictorial and semiotic conventions of photomedia, forming inverted landscapes that contend with the material and political implications of visually representing the Anthropocene. Through undermining the material semblance and representational structures of photomedia depictions of nature, the imaging apparatus is exposed, bringing attention to how humans, non-human nature, and imaging technologies are entangled. The creative outcome comprises three artistic projects: "Ambient Pressure," "Surfacing," and "Echo," which were assembled as an exhibition, "Inverted Landscapes." "Ambient Pressure" critiques how photomedia are used to frame and fix nature into an abstraction. To undermine the seemingly transparent objectification that occurs through photographic practices, artworks were made by physically modifying film and prints, adding occlusions during the film scanning process, and extending these material gestures into moving image. "Surfacing" enabled more-than-human agencies of natural phenomena and photo-materials to make artworks. To highlight correspondences between the geo-chemical materials of photomedia and earth processes, photographic film and paper was directly exposed to high-salinity environments and geothermal activities. "Echo" explored the affordances of photomedia by scanning botanical forms within environmental conditions that were beyond the imaging threshold of the technology. The resulting digital 3D models carry with them aesthetic aberrations that demonstrate data’s fragility and instability, ruptures that expose the imaging apparatus. Elaborating on posthumanist and new materialist conceptions of matter and agency, the exegesis analyses the artworks presented in the exhibition "Inverted Landscapes." Media theory and ecocritical perspectives provide necessary context through which to understand the intensive correspondences between the Earth and imaging technologies. Using the writing and philosophical positions of Karen Barad, Jussi Parikka, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, among others, the exegesis forms an argument for a more-than-representational approach to photomedia-based creative practice. This thesis proposes that unsettling representational constructs, enabling more-than-human agencies, and attending to the analogue and digital material of photomedia are generative processes for creative practice. Consequently, the material, political, and conceptual entanglements of nature and photomedia materialise through the artworks. By haptically manipulating conventional landscape imagery, enmeshing photo-materials with natural phenomena, and harnessing the limitations of digital 3D scans of flora, my research imagines new relationalities between nature, culture, and technology. I argue that the more-than-representational research used throughout this project contributes to a reconfiguring of how nature is conceptualised. The necessary perspective shift in contending with, and responding to, the climate crisis enlivens and shapes this project.
Keywordsphotography; video; 3D modelling; nature; landscape; posthumanism; new materialism
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