The documentary landscape and the representation of human-nature relationships: being ecological in the photographs of Lucas Foglia

Peck, Julia ORCID: 0000-0001-5134-2471 (2018) The documentary landscape and the representation of human-nature relationships: being ecological in the photographs of Lucas Foglia. In: Anthropocene Narratives: A Humanities Symposium, 28th September 2018, Trondheim, Norway. (Unpublished)

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In recent ecocritical thought, different writers, have called for traditional distinctions such as human/nature, inside/outside, subject/object and mind/body to be overcome (Bennett, Moore, Morton). Arguing that anthropocentrism – the privileging of human experience and needs – is causing our world to become seriously endangered through climate change and mass extinction, a body of thought has emerged that encourages humans to differently understand their place in, and their relationship to, the natural world. Moving away from anthropocentric, hierarchical and exploitative positions, these writers are encouraging new subject positions that include the non-living and the non-human. Such ideas have also been accompanied by experimental ecoart that in many instances also calls for the human/non-human divide to be renegotiated. The purpose of this paper, though, will be to question the extent to which photography is productively contributing to these radical ways of understanding the biosphere and human/non-human relationships. Photography, unlike other art forms such as performance art, has a tendency to be strongly rationalist. This is partly due to its ordering of space through perspective and through its structural relationship to notions of the “other”: photographs can often have the effect of making people and places look as though they are “over there” rather than part of us in the here and now. Photographs, then, are perhaps not the obvious choice when it comes to representing new subjectivities or phenomenology. However, photographers are also becoming conscious of new ways of talking about human and non-human relationships, and photographic practices are developing that aim to problematise some long-held distinctions about the world. One such project is Lucas Foglia’s (2017) book Human Nature. It opens with a statement about how climate change has affected his family’s farm, and the entire biosphere. This led him to document places on Earth that are changed by humans, and the ways in which humans are changed. Smaller in scope than Edward Burtynsky’s or Sabastiao Salgado’s photographic projects, Foglia’s photographs are richly poetic and visually stunning and avoid repeating representations of a ravaged landscape. Instead, Foglia’s photographs offer something more tantalising: human-nature interactions that are interesting, inspiring, worrying, beautiful and compelling.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Lucas Foglia, Human Nature, Timothy Morton, Photography, Anthropocene
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
T Technology > TR Photography
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creative Arts
Research Priority Areas: Culture, Continuity, and Transformation
Creative Practice and Theory
Depositing User: Julia Peck
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2018 11:34
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:22

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