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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

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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) once i counted birds 2009 (1 min)
  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 [email_address] fitzgerald