nature on screen: can ecopoetic cinematic  forms reconnect us to an ecology of place and planet cathy fitzgerald, visual c...
a biocentric artist Spent 10 yrs in science research before art college Long history of working with leading sustainable f...
key research enquiry: we need  new  cinematic  forms  if we want to  continue to exist  on  earth
earth’s   systems   are near   collapse
yet the crisis of the  earth is a  crisis of  culture
our  culture  prioritises  narratives   that   promise  unlimited consumption for all
whereas  ‘ nature ’  on which we depend  is   presented   as something  other,  exotic, sublime, picturesque...  and not  ...
aren’t   scientists   just   poor communicators?
nature  is  contested ...  old philosophical  territory deforestation in New Zealand
there is a  big  divide   nature culture
‘ nature ’  seen as a  ‘cultural construct ’ ’ ,
science  deals with nature as a   material  entity
unfortunately ‘the   values   with which the   humanities   have taught us   to regard  humankind   have   rarely been ext...
the  assemblage   of  nature   is in   process   and can be  engaged  through   many   activities ,  practices  and  place...
we have always  mediated   nature   mass mediation  is a historical process by which we have been taught to be observers o...
how well we are using  audiovisual technology,  to   perceive ,  or   not ,   the earth  and   our place  in it?
popular cultural  formats ‘mediating nature’   sublime  (natural disaster movies), climate change, day after tomorrow etc ...
my work is creating backyard filmic assemblages of ‘nature’  connecting my local  eco stories /actions/science  knowledge ...
ecopoetics  - an assemblage strategy? eco -  oikos  : Greek, the study of  dwelling/home (science) poiesis  : Greek ‘makin...
experimental films so far burning bright  2008 (1.5 min)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6PaMZTx0c4 once i counted birds ...
Harmonious dwelling with the earth is a matter of  staying put  and  listening in , whereas the rapacious drive of ‘progre...
poetry’s way of articulating the relationship   between humankind and environment, person and place   is peculiar because ...
the poetic works  not  as a set of assumptions or proposals about particular environmental issues but as a way of reflecti...
subjectivity  in  nonfiction cinema ,  prevalent with  low cost video & Internet,  is a reflection and a consequence of ou...
small, slow, organic media centered on  local  contexts may result in a deeper form of environmental communication than sh...
thank you www.ecoartnotebook.com [email_address]   facebook.com/cathy fitzgerald  linkedin.com/in/cathyfitz
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Nature on screen: can ecopoetic forms reconnect us to a sense of place and planet

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Cathy presented this talk of her proposed doctoral research at Will Beauty Save the World, (Bristol, 2010) and at Gradcam.ie

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  • context: mixed science/art background, grew up in NZ, spent 10 years in biological science, moved to ireland15 yrs ago, worked for forest NGO groups in Ireland, then 6 years in fine art college, then 5 years in local green politics....always trying to connect my art and science knowledge .... my research art project is creating short films based on transforming my spruce plantation to a permanent, sustainable forest - i work with leading professional foresters at local and EU level and politicians
  • What I’m trying to find out?
  • Why is this worth knowing? coming from a background in science (I worked in biological science before entering art college) I'm sadly convinced the earth’s systems are near collapse because of peaking resources, species loss, climate change
  • Particularly in all the cinematic forms we experience
  • there is a danger that such strategies do not allow audiences at home to easily connect to their involvement in ecological concerns 2010 psychological research over last 15 yrs show that people across the world believe that environmental concerns are always somewhere else …there is a tendency to distance the cause from themselves Prof Uzzell, Env. Psychologist, Uni Surrey ....there has also been a trend to transport artists/musicians, cultural leaders to environments such as the poles to highlight climate change... While these areas are the first to be affected it also reinforces that these problems are far away unless the work is integrated into local situations back home
  • perhaps we could argue that...scientists are just poor communicators (though that has never been its role)
  • the fact is, definitions of ‘nature’ are stupendously slippery, complex and contested. It’s old philosophical territory often little regarded in contemporary cultural discourse
  • There appears to be a big divide between nature and culture, culture being left to the humanities, nature to the natural sciences…… and unfortunately with ecological crisis mounting, where science tells us we have less than 40 years to change humanity’s behaviour to live more sustainably on the earth, this is very problematic
  • in cultural spheres.... Nature is seen as a cultural construct…. it is how we create and ‘consume’ popular landscapes for e.g
  • whereas....
  • same irish landscape
  • How am I going to find out about this – will look at recent cultural theory on nature, cultural geography…. Recent research is looking at ‘hybrid ‘theories of nature culture, new consideration of ‘multi-natures’ even, nature as an idea of ‘assemblages/in process with contributions from science and culture
  • My particular focus will be on cinema and nature, its clear that we have always mediated nature so will also look to theory of nature in cinema – very small field, eco-criticism of film is a small and relatively recent research area compared with eco-criticism in literature that has developed over the last 30 yrs or so
  • considering cinema (cinema being that term that covers all aspects of the audiovisual moving image) is today’s most powerful medium, the chief concern in my work is ...how well we are using av technology, to perceive, or not, the earth and our place in it
  • considering how powerful a medium cinema is, is it truly surprising how little critical analysis of film there is in regards to ecology/environment A simple overview will argue that popular formats have developed in cinema in re: to representing nature/env nature has been a backdrop more often than not in cinema I think this again relates to this historic divide between how the humanities and sciences regard nature but also that cinema’s main role has been to entertain
  • In my own practice of short film making, I will attempt to articulate an ‘assemblage idea of nature’ : centering on a focussed observation of my environment/place (science, relatively unknown sustainable forestry knowledge) along with a personal interpretation (cultural) Work is low key, naïve… showing a type of sustainable permanent forestry that is not practicised widely in Ireland… no clear-felling. My primary source material is my 2 acre spruce plantation. (I’m also working in green party forestry policy on introducing this type of EU sustainable forestry into Irish foresty policy) Aim to make film work that is more engaging and rooted in one place, will connect more to local audiences though referencing global concerns such as climate change Personal storytelling rather than documentary, although the work is informed by my working with leading professional sustainable foresters. Relaying action at local level, narratives for the future that are more empowering for audiences to relate to than focusing on blame, powerlessness, etc. Env pschologists and communicators stress that we need empowering narratives for people to relate to Film lends itself to imagining the temporal and spatial of nature too which are impt elements in my work of connecting to past, present and future ecologies, local and global connections
  • i previously examined documentary interview styles, presenting environmental science facts & figures. To me such works seemed overly didactic, lecturing... one step from propaganda, activist approach – ‘ simply present the facts and figures about global warming has failed to convince large portions of the general public, journalists, and policy makers about the scale of the problem and the urgnecy of required action… 2010 Prof Uzzell turned to literature, specifically new ideas of the poetic and applied these ideas to film... poetic might seem outdated, naive in todays world?!
  • I am interested, and impressed by, artists who centre their work on one location for long periods, chinese artists continually painting the same tree, the 2 guys in the film King Corn growing an acre wheatfield over time to understand the everyday politics of corn in the US, artist filmmakers such as Andrej Zdravic , and Allora and Calzadilla’s film work on env round Hurricane Katrina and everyday life My primary source material is my own 2 acres woodland, named after my dog Holly – as a former microbiologist understand the ever changing complexity in the universe there in my backyard forest I question the acceptance of artists heading off on residencies when more could be gained from ‘stopping and staring’ unless there is an emphasis on connecting the wider back to the local, ie I would be very happy for someone to send me to the amazon, but like in my bird film i would make it a priority to connect it back to my own audiences environment
  • not all these ideas occurred to me overnight... but I found that I agree that there is a quality to a poetic approach and poetry’s way of articulating…. Many might also argue that we live in a time where there is a crisis in representation and the philosopher Heidegger suggests that ‘ poetry is our way of stepping outside the technological...proposed that poetry, not science, unconceals the essence of nature (and how we can live with it)
  • while all of the texts I’ve quoted are describing written poetry, I think it can also apply to film... What i find interesting to consider is... the poetic works NOT.... others such as philosopher Mary Midgley agree that poetry may also address the atomistic picture of nature created by science which has been disastrous when turned towards our own understanding of ourselves and the environment Midgely 2001 Science and Poetry
  • last point, as a filmmaker i’m curious about my role as the narrator in my filmpoem diary/essays and how such work circulates/operates on the web and to its audiences....it is argued that the prioritising of personal subjectivity.... Many environmental groups are using social media to encourage audiences to co-create, upload instances of env. Actions in their own localities
  • my film aesthetic is very lowfi, no CGI or special effects - this is a creative decision, to fit in with presenting the normality of the ‘everyday’ to relate to my local audiences
  • Over the last 2 years I have researched the context of working in the art and ecology area, also attending conferences on Art and Forestry (RSA, 2009), Culture Futures (Copenhagen first culture and climate change confernece, 2009), and presented my research ideas at Beauty Will Save the World (Bristol 2010) Please feel welcome to subscribe to my ecoart blog at www.ecoartnotebook.com
  • Nature on screen: can ecopoetic forms reconnect us to a sense of place and planet

    1. 1. nature on screen: can ecopoetic cinematic forms reconnect us to an ecology of place and planet cathy fitzgerald, visual culture, practice and theory research, ncad gradCAM
    2. 2. a biocentric artist Spent 10 yrs in science research before art college Long history of working with leading sustainable forester s in Ireland and more recently in Europe Active in green politics for many years Always had an interdisciplinary practice Art practice is making short films related to transforming a spruce plantation into and ecologically and economically rich permanent forest
    3. 3. key research enquiry: we need new cinematic forms if we want to continue to exist on earth
    4. 4. earth’s systems are near collapse
    5. 5. yet the crisis of the earth is a crisis of culture
    6. 6. our culture prioritises narratives that promise unlimited consumption for all
    7. 7. whereas ‘ nature ’ on which we depend is presented as something other, exotic, sublime, picturesque... and not connected to our everyday life
    8. 8. aren’t scientists just poor communicators?
    9. 9. nature is contested ... old philosophical territory deforestation in New Zealand
    10. 10. there is a big divide nature culture
    11. 11. ‘ nature ’ seen as a ‘cultural construct ’ ’ ,
    12. 12. science deals with nature as a material entity
    13. 13. unfortunately ‘the values with which the humanities have taught us to regard humankind have rarely been extended to the material world which the sciences examine and technology transforms ’ Bate 2000 The Song of the Earth
    14. 14. the assemblage of nature is in process and can be engaged through many activities , practices and places . Hinchcliffe 2007 Geographies of Nature
    15. 15. we have always mediated nature mass mediation is a historical process by which we have been taught to be observers of, if not in, nature Lindahl Elliot, Mediating Nature , 2006
    16. 16. how well we are using audiovisual technology, to perceive , or not , the earth and our place in it?
    17. 17. popular cultural formats ‘mediating nature’ sublime (natural disaster movies), climate change, day after tomorrow etc horror (animal attack films), picturesque, romantic, exotic, (avatar) etc historic development of nature documentary often blinkered from wider political, social or ecological concerns popular cinematic formats primarily deal with nature as exotic, dangerous, interesting but far away
    18. 18. my work is creating backyard filmic assemblages of ‘nature’ connecting my local eco stories /actions/science knowledge to planetary concerns work is neither didactic documentary nor directly political
    19. 19. ecopoetics - an assemblage strategy? eco - oikos : Greek, the study of dwelling/home (science) poiesis : Greek ‘making’ (culture) Greeks were all into didactic poetry
    20. 20. experimental films so far burning bright 2008 (1.5 min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6PaMZTx0c4 once i counted birds 2009 (1 min) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiPVXALKNXU
    21. 21. Harmonious dwelling with the earth is a matter of staying put and listening in , whereas the rapacious drive of ‘progress’ is towards travelling out and making claims – the claims of knowledge, of conquest and of possession Bate 2000
    22. 22. poetry’s way of articulating the relationship between humankind and environment, person and place is peculiar because it is experiential , not descriptive.... Bate 2000 The Song of the Earth
    23. 23. the poetic works not as a set of assumptions or proposals about particular environmental issues but as a way of reflecting upon what it might mean to dwell with the earth .... also it is pre-political (not propaganda) Bate 2000 The Song of the Earth
    24. 24. subjectivity in nonfiction cinema , prevalent with low cost video & Internet, is a reflection and a consequence of our fragmented, globalised world.. we are all condemned to decentredness, fragmentation and liquidity... the autobiographical feeds the hope of finding or creating unity in this world... Rascaroli 2009 The Personal Camera -Subjective Cinema and the Essay Film
    25. 25. small, slow, organic media centered on local contexts may result in a deeper form of environmental communication than shallow messages in mass media Lopez 2010
    26. 26. thank you www.ecoartnotebook.com [email_address] facebook.com/cathy fitzgerald linkedin.com/in/cathyfitz

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