Annotated Bibliography

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Annotated Bibliography

  1. 1. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix WilsonAnnotated BibliographyThe project Waste in Place: The McRobies Gully Tip as Landscape will userepresentations of the McRobies Gully landfill site in South Hobart to explorecontemporary understandings of landscape and its relationship to theaesthetics of human and non-human relations.Humans, animals, birds and others interact in ways that challengeconventional perceptions of ecology on the landfill site. Issues relating toecology and landscape representation are particularly contested in Tasmaniaand this site affords possibilities for recalibrating shared aestheticunderstandings of waste and the relations between humans and non-humans.This annotated bibliography provides an overview of literature relevant to theproject, and is divided into three thematic sections. Geographies of wasteoutlines significant theoretical works related to waste, beginning with thepersonal and moving toward systematic and universal concerns. Secondly,aesthetics and ecological relations contrasts two key texts that discussenvironmental aesthetics, the differing approaches help to define importantissues for the project. Finally, making landscapes discusses theoreticalperspectives on landscape as a concept in philosophy and art, which willinform decisions about strategies for representing the site.The conclusion discusses the implications for the project, and identifies issuesnot discussed in the literature.Geographies of WasteCalvino, I, 2009, La Poubelle Agréée, in The Road to SanGiovanni, Penguin, London.Calvino’s short autobiographical essay takes its title from the colloquial namefor the container used for waste collection in Paris, and as its starting pointthe seemingly simple act of taking out the rubbish for collection. Calvinoexplores the metaphysical implications of discarding an object as waste, andtheorises this process as an act of definition that creates a boundary betweenwhat can be considered integral to the self and what is other.Calvino recognises waste as something dependent upon human culture andsocial circumstances for creation, not as an inherent quality of any object. In
  2. 2. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix Wilsonestablishing the social and intimate as the point of waste creation and as abasis for drawing a boundary between what is human and what is non-humanor alien, Calvino provides an analogy that can be extended to widerunderstandings of waste in contemporary society, particularly to the landfillsite and its relationship to the built environment of the city.Hawkins, G 2006, The ethics of waste: how we relate to rubbish,Rowman & Littlefield Pub Incorporated, Lanham, Md.Hawkins book is a discussion of the personal and social ethics of waste, andthe relations between the body, society, and waste. The book relates wasteto wider issues of environmental ethics and individual morality, and discussessome case studies that illuminate aspects of our complex relationship withwaste.In chapter one; an overflowing bin, Hawkins discusses the implications formuch of the conventional discussion of waste, which she characterizes asdualistic, framing humans in opposition to nature. This thinking limitspossibilities for positive change for Hawkins, but she does not suggest thatwaste can be removed as a category, suggesting it is necessary both for theself and for complex societies.In chapter four; a dumped car, Hawkins discusses contrasting culturalunderstandings of waste through recent cinema. Agnes Varda’s Gleaners andI, which explores gleaning as a social and historical phenomenon related tovalue and production systems and Bush Mechanics that identifies anindigenous Australian relationship to waste that is at odds with Europeanunderstandings, are analysed. In Bush Mechanics, leaving traces is seen as animportant aspect of being in a place, and part of an indigenous socialnarration of place. Objects left in place are part of an ongoing story abouthuman relations with place, and are not seen as morally wrong, or assomething that should be hidden.By exploring the many dimensions and implications of waste, from theintimate to the global, Hawkins provides an excellent ground to continueexploration.Lepawsky, J & Mather, C 2011, From beginnings and endings toboundaries and edges: rethinking circulation and exchangethrough electronic waste, Area, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 242-249.
  3. 3. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix WilsonLepawsky and Mather’s article sets out to critique existing geographical,economic, and environmental understandings of waste, which theycharacterize as overly linear and lacking in complexity. The article describes aproject following electronic waste from Canada to Bangladesh, where theyfound that the idea of waste as something permanently discarded is notapplicable. Every component they follow is re-purposed, never leaving theproduction cycle, but being reassembled in complex networks involvingrecombination and redistribution.The authors propose a new model based on boundaries and edges, whichare not fixed, but dependent on changing relations between actors incomplex networks. For the authors boundaries and edges are the result ofrelations, which occur as processes that can be recognized and definedthrough transitions, for example in the transition of copper circuitry fromelectronics into copper ingots destined for sale on the commodities markets.This work offers the possibility of considering, and visualizing the landfill as apoint in a complex network of interrelations rather than a fixed object or endpoint of production or consumption. Although the authors do not expandtheir concepts beyond human geographies, their framework could easily bewidened to include non-human actors; birds, animals and bacteria that all actupon objects and involve them in complex entangled processes thatinterrelate with the human.Rathje, WL & Murphy, C 2001, Rubbish!: the archaeology ofgarbage, Harper Collins, New York.Archaeologist William Rathje was director of the Garbage Project, which usedarchaeological techniques to examine Fresh Kills, which was New York’sprimary landfill site for almost half a century, and remains one of the largestman-made structures in the world. In approaching waste from thisperspective, difficult issues of scale and temporal duration are raised, andsome discussion on the management of landfill sites is included.Rathje and Murphy’s book is written for a general audience and is much moreconventional in its presentation and discussion of waste, but illuminates manyof the unresolved issues related to the physical presence of waste and itsclose relationship to cities and human societies. The authors are lessinterested in metaphysics than in the pure physicality of waste and its use as
  4. 4. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix Wilsonevidence of the habits of contemporary, and also ancient societies such asthe Maya, which they discuss in some detail.Information about the mechanics of waste, and the processes involved inlayering and decomposition is useful in understanding the physical andchemical processes occurring in landfill sites. The archaeological andhistorical perspectives also open avenues of visual inquiry that focus ontemporal and archival aspects of the site.Aesthetics and Ecological RelationsCarlson, A & Berleant, A 2004, Introduction: the aesthetics ofnature, in A Carlson & A Berleant (eds), The aesthetics of naturalenvironments, Broadview Press, Orchard Park, NY.Carlson and Berleant’s introduction to their edited collection provides anoverview of the field of environmental aesthetics through a discussion of thechapters of the book.Carlson and Berleant’s positions on the appropriate mode of approachingnature aesthetically differ, with Carlson arguing for an approach informed byscience, which he proposes as an analogy to appreciating an artwork usingrelevant art historical information. Berleant argues for an aesthetics ofengagement as a model for appreciating nature or art, or any otherenvironment. This reverses the conventional position on the differencebetween the aesthetics of art and nature, and Berleant argues that the multisensory, engaged approach used to encounter nature should be used toencounter art.There is no discussion of what the concept of nature implies and the term isused in a variety of ways in relation to the ideas of the authors whose work isdiscussed.Morton, T 2007, Ecology without nature: Rethinkingenvironmental aesthetics, Harvard University Press.Morton’s thesis is that it is the concept of nature that inhibits a moregenuinely ecological relationship between human beings and the non-humanfrom emerging. In this complex and wide ranging book, Morton draws on
  5. 5. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix Wilsondiverse sources, from contemporary pop culture to romantic philosophy andbuilds a compelling argument.For Morton, aesthetics, politics, art and are intertwined in ideology and heargues convincingly that nature is a problematic and ideological concept thathampers possibilities for changing relationships between the human and thenon-human, rather than offering possibilities for change.The contrast with Carlson and Berleant’s discussion of environmentalaesthetics is strong, whereas they accept nature as a concept requiring noscrutiny Morton subjects it to a close reading through various art forms, withvery different conclusions reached. Morton offers no clear description of whata post-nature aesthetics would look like, but as an approach to overcomingthe traditional dualism of nature and culture, his thesis is novel and welldeveloped.Carlson and Berleant’s, and Morton’s approaches to aesthetics divergesignificantly. In applying ideas from these books to the project, theapplication of scientific knowledge to understanding an environment fromCarlson will be useful and also Morton’s idea that nature is an ideologicalconcept that needs to be discarded.Making LandscapesMitchell, WJT 2002, Imperial Landscape, in WJT Mitchell (ed.),Landscape and power, 2nd edn, University of Chicago Press,Chicago.Mitchell’s collection of essays on the political implications of landscapeimagery is considered seminal in discussion of landscape. Mitchell’s ownchapter Imperial Landscape argues that the term landscape should beconsidered as a verb, an active process of encoding place through imagerywith political implications. In highlighting the specificity of landscape imageryto particular cultural contexts, Mitchell argues that power relations encodedin landscape imagery support imperial assumptions about control and powerover people and ground in the sites depicted.In asking what landscape does, and how it operates as cultural practiceMitchell largely foregoes discussion of ecological or environmental concernsand focuses instead on the political implications of landscape imagery for
  6. 6. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix Wilsonthose who inhabit particular places. This important text informs muchcontemporary thinking about landscape, and the relevance to Tasmania andits colonial history is easily discerned.Mitchell’s understanding of landscape opens possibilities for creatingrepresentations of the McRobies Gully site that do not encode an imperialaesthetics, but an aesthetics which recognizes complex relations betweenhuman and non-human actors.Haynes, RD 2006, Tasmanian visions: landscapes in writing, artand photography, Polymath Press, Sandy Bay, Tas.Haynes discusses the visual and literary representation of Tasmania since thecolonial period, focusing on how artists have contributed to a ‘sense of place’in Tasmania, and how contemporary artists and writers engage with issuesaround environmental impact and ideas of wilderness.The aftermath of colonialism is a strong theme; Haynes refers to theindigenous people’s long relationship with, and shaping of, the environmentin Tasmania. The relationship between landscape imagery that emphasisewilderness qualities and the idea of terra nullius echoes Mitchell’s discussionof the imperial nature of landscape imagery.Haynes work is highly relevant to the McRobies Gully Project and itsTasmanian context. Her focus on the political and social implications of visualimagery and the possibilities it offers for new dialogues encouragesexperimentation with visualising ways of thinking about the relationship ofthe human and non-human through landscape representation.Ingold, T 2000, The perception of the environment: essays onlivelihood, dwelling and skill, Routledge, London.Ingold’s discussion of landscape as a concept draws on theory fromanthropology and art history as well as philosophy to weave a complexnarrative about the human relationship to place expressed through the ideaof landscape.For Ingold, landscape is much more than a visual, culturally acquiredphenomenon, and he rejects the idea that it must contain a dualism betweenhuman and non-human, or culture and nature. Rather, in chapter eleven; The
  7. 7. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix Wilsontemporality of the landscape he discusses landscape as an inherentlytemporal phenomena, and details the implications of this through a closeanalysis of Breughel’s The Harvesters which he uses to explain his theories oflandscape as a phenomena of complex interrelations between the body andenvironment, each co-dependent upon the other, and occurring throughtime.Ingold’s approach to landscape and aesthetics draws together threads fromdiverse fields, his focus on temporality as a critical element of landscape andhis insistence on the non-dualistic nature of landscape are important for theMcRobies Gully project. Rathje and Murphy’s discussion of rubbish alsorelates to the temporal aspect of waste and in conjunction with Ingold’stheoretical work highlight the importance of this aspect of landscape for theproject.Malpas, J 2011, Place and the Problem of Landscape , in JMalpas (ed.), The place of landscape: concepts, contexts,studies, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.Malpas’ Place and the problem of landscape offers an overview ofcontemporary thinking about landscape and place, and draws on philosophyand art-history to explore competing ideas about the two interrelatedconcepts.The examples Malpas cites are often in a Tasmanian context, he uses artistssuch as John Glover and Peter Dombrovskis to illustrate his discussion. Indoing this, Malpas places the Tasmanian context at the centre ofcontemporary thought about landscape and relations to place.In discussing wilderness imagery, Malpas concurs with Mitchell’s view of thespectatorial and ideological nature of such depictions, however Malpas goesfurther and suggests that even in these images, it is the human relation to theplace which defines it, and that this is inherent in all landscape imagery.Malpas concludes his discussion taking a complex and nuanced position,which treats landscape as broader in scope than the visual or spectatorial anddrawing from Ingold’s thought. For Malpas landscape is shaped by humaninvolvement, but landscape also shapes the human, and acts as a function ofplace.
  8. 8. FSA 413 Annotated Bibliography Felix WilsonTo conclude, the readings described above provide a strong theoreticalunderpinning for the project and deeper insight into the project’s keythemes; the dualism inherent in conventional understandings of waste andnature, the possibilities afforded by landscape for describing social andecological relations, and the potential for describing the relations betweenhuman and non-human in ways that recognise complex ecologies ofrelations.Little research was identified discussing non-human animals in relation towaste, either as scavengers (although there is some work related to pestcontrol in this context), as active agents using waste from human societies oras creators of waste.Word Count: 2150

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