2016 Note: my research direction has since changed considerably to examine developments in transversal practice as my practice evolved in advancing significant outcomes in several knowledge domains. However, I still maintain an interest in experimental ecocriticism.
30 Dec 2011: Working phd title – is it possible to create cinematic moments/works that aspire to articulate a more ecocentric way of relating/perceiving the earth.
Working artistic enquiry abstract
Questions arising from a long term art and ecology project in which film-making has a significant part, have directed an artistic enquiry into the conceptual conventions, limitations and under-explored potential of cinema in how it is used to present nature. Cinema is a relatively recent cultural activity; its use as a medium to present natural phenomena has mainly revolved around the small, often overlooked and under examined genre of nature documentary, the cultural politics of which have mainly centered on creating anthropocentric representations of in-depth wildlife observation and conservation as embodying environmentalism. While the nature documentary genre is popular and has obviously played an important role in environmental education, conservation and policy, rapid global biosphere instability suggests gross failure in environmentalism as a means of understanding the complexly dynamic, interconnected and fragile natural communities on which humanity and other species depend. A post-environmentalist perspective in this Anthropocene age suggests that examination and aspirations to more ecocentric perspectives, rather than environmental, are overdue and urgent and may be important in the evolution of nature cinema.
In this qualitative enquiry, work to present and examine nature on screen with regard to more recent ecosophical thought and ethics will be examined through an interplay of cinematic experimentation in artists experimental cinema and relevant theory. The artistic practice will seek to examine the potential of experimental cinema in retraining perspectives while also allowing an examination of the conventions of media spectatorship that largely ignores earth systems. These works will respond to evolving interactions and interventions in a long-term art & ecology project of transformation of a monoculture tree plantation into a diverse forest in the researcher’s immediate environment.
A review of recent ecocriticism as it applies to cinema will be performed (ecocriticism of cultural works has developed in Literary Theory and only recently been applied to cinema), and case studies of works and works-in-process that display or aspire to more ecocentric perspectives or moments will be examined. Similarly ideas in ecofeminism and phenomenology (the latter in regards to sensory perception) may also be visited. As an artistic research enquiry, autoethnographic methodologies (self-reflexive methods that situate and value personal experience in socio-historical contexts) will seek to capture and present the experiential information and emergent methods obtained and developed during creative processes. Methodological tools employed to collate information will be a private reflexive online journal and information will further be disseminated and create a profile for this area on a niche public website and its connection to various art and ecology and related interdisciplinary networks. The research may also seek to describe how art & ecology practices perform on social media networks and contribute to the development of this field.
By employing and addressing recent ecosophical ideas/ethics in specific experimental cinematic practices, the enquiry will seek to create and make explicit cultural practices and perspectives that contribute to more ecocentrically informed cinematic methods and art and ecology practices. Such cultural work will contribute more ethical and ecologically considered perspectives (in the context of the current and dominant anthropocentric/environmental cultural perspectives) and will be increasingly important if wider society is to more fully acknowledge the fragile, interconnected and interdependent living communities on which all life depends.
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