Panel 13: Visualizing Ecomedia



Panel 13: Visualizing Ecomedia

“World-Building: The Unnatural Geologies of Joyce Hinterding and David Haines”

Susan Ballard (Senior Lecturer in Art History and Contemporary Arts, University of Wollongong)

“Ecodata – Ecomedia – Ecoaesthetics, or: Technologies of the Ecological after the Anthropocene”

Yvonne Volkart (senior lecturer and researcher in Art and Media)

Rasa Smite (artist, researcher in Art and Sciences)

Aline Veillat (artist researcher in Art and Sciences)

University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

“Performing Precariousness on Thin Ice: Ecomedia and the Arctic Climate Crisis”

Senta Sanders (Ph.D. candidate in English, University of Augsburg)

Q & A

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15 replies
  1. Joseph Heumann, Eastern Illinois University says:

    Hi Susan:
    Thanks for the connections from imagined geology, to systematic geology and how it connects to land artists (and I would argue artists like Gordon Matta Clarke) and what Hinterding and Haines are creating. My question concerns man made earthquakes. In the USA fracking in Oklahoma has turned what once was a stable geology into an area that now experiences hundreds of small earthquakes a year and some major ones. The reinjection of “wastewater” back into the deep earth has created the very geological fault lines that the artists are trying to get people to experience. How do you think they would respond to these events or do you feel their work is just envisioning this future? I won’t get into mountain top removal, but visual artists are trying to confront that ecocatastrophe, but not in ways that the artists you are highlighting have done.

    • Suballard says:

      Hi Joseph, thanks for the kind words. Have you read Jean Luc Nancy’s “After Fukushima”? In there he argues that we can’t really distinguish between natural and human-created disasters anymore. Every disaster in the Anthropocene is the result of human activity – at some level. (Eg. a natural disaster may occur, but the ongoing impacts are due to human actions / inactions.) Haines and Hinterding have made other works that address this perspective (and that connect to the problem of mountain top removal as well). Have a look at their Purple Rain:
      where radio signals cause mountains to fall. In NSW Australia there is great concern about mining under and around our water catchment areas. I also agree with your link to Gordon Matta Clarke – I think there is a renewed interest in earlier attempts to address the land and environment – but perhaps now a greater concern with the environmental impacts of the artworks themselves.

      • Joseph Heumann, Eastern Illinois University says:

        Hi Susan:
        Robin and I met John Kinsella when he read here around 2006. His concerns about the on going destruction of Australia aligns with what you have outlined. It is somewhat facile, but easy to claim that Australia is becoming some huge commodity colony for China’s every larger appetites.
        I have not read Nancy’s work, but just following every mistake made at Fukushima……”we have the wrong plug !! ” was way too painful. Robin and I have written extensively about Mountain Top Removal in out Film and Everyday Eco-Disasters so it appears that Nancy’s claims that all natural disasters are human caused does not get any arguments from us. I will track that work down.
        We saw a big exhibition of Matta Clarke in St Louis a while back. It was comprehensive down to some of the artifacts that had been taken from buildings. Plus all the film footage they shot of the creation of new spaces being created by Matta Clarke with his power tools.

  2. Joseph Heumann, Eastern Illinois University says:

    Hi Senta:
    Thanks for your insightful piece and introducing these films to Robin and myself. We have seen many films about the Arctic ecodisaster, but these two are new for us and your readings of them are quite sharp. About five years ago Robin’s East Central Illinois Feminist Film Festival received an entry from Inuit women filmmakers called The Sacred Place Where Time Began. It’s a personal plea from these women who became filmmakers to do something about the “world that is melting beneath our feet.”
    It’s not as if nations below the Arctic Circle are not aware of this disaster. Cruise lines are now offering trips to the Northern Passage. Financial newspapers write about the ability of major shipping to save millions of dollars through a Northwest Passage route. All of the seven Arctic nations (and the first nation populations are under all their thumbs) are beginning the fight over minerals, oil and other economic rights. Even China is now starting to claim rights to the Arctic.
    It appears that no matter how fast the people (and animal populations) whose very existence is being threatened bring these issues to the screen and to the courts that other forces are aligning themselves to ignore and destroy both them and their messages. So thanks for getting us up to speed about these people on the edge. Their concerns have to be addressed and attended to, because within a few years we are going to be exactly where they are today. Watching the “world melting beneath our feet.” It’s not like you haven’t warned us.

    • Senta A. Sanders, University of Augsburg says:

      Joe, thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and feedback. I greatly appreciate the film recommendation and look forward to watching The Sacred Place Where Time Began. Do you happen to know if the film is available online?

      I was not aware–and am utterly surprised/shocked–that China has joined in on the scramble for the Arctic. I would have never made that connection, but will definitely have to look into to it. Thanks for bringing it up.

      • rlmurray50 says:

        Hi Senta,

        Thank you so much for your interesting and informative presentation.

        Just a note, the short documentary is called *The Sacred Place Where Life Begins: Gwich’in Women Speak*. I was able to purchase the DVD from the filmmaker. Here’s her website:

        Have you also explored other Canadian arctic cinema such as *Vanishing Point* (2012):

        Thank you for sharing the documentaries Kivalina and QIKCC. We will definitely check those out.

  3. Joseph Heumann, Eastern Illinois University says:

    Hi Yvonne, Rasa and Aline:
    Thanks for your introduction to your individual work and to the forest you are interpreting. While watching your presentation my first thought was how much do your individual studies of the Pyhnwald effect the forest itself and all that live within it?
    How does the forest read you? The final third of the presentation gives us some ways to see that. Thanks for giving the earthworms a chance to comment on their lives in that forest.

    • V says:

      Thank you Joseph for your comment and your interest for earthworms (here seen mainly thanks through Darwin’s experiment). Of course the forest is hybridized by scientific technical apparatus – since years. Our personal intervention (our art&sciences participation) do not impact the forest yet – except ideas and thoughts might impact our vision/perception and as a result our way to interact with it! How the forest read us? Is in fact one of our question that remains still broadly open. Aline

  4. rlmurray50 says:

    Hi Susan, Thank you for your engaging presentation. I appreciated your creative nonfiction approach. Adding image turned your paper into an apt video essay. Thank you for introducing me to the artists Joyce Hinterding and David Haines, as well. I’m left with a question other presenters have broached–How might visual art like that you’ve presented change viewers’ behavior toward the environment an attitude toward the Earth?

    • Suballard says:

      Hi rlmurray, thanks for your comment. I’m interested in testing the boundaries of how we can write about art in the Anthropocene, so its great to hear that this approach is starting to work. I was inspired by Amitov Ghosh’s claim (in The Great Derangement) that our writing (and in particular our fiction) is not yet fully able to express the disaster that is climate change. I think visual art does much more than reflect the world, I think it does change our behaviours and attitudes. In Haines and Hinterding’s work it helped people talk about their own relationship with geology and the environment. In Christchurch after the quake people needed to learn more about the land upon which they lived, this was one way to help us do that, (without being instrumentalist).

  5. rlmurray50 says:

    Hi Yvonne, Rasa, and Aline, Thank you for your mixture of art and research. Your work reminded me of a memoir I read recently, *Lab Girl* by Hope Jahren, which connects eco-data with the aesthetics of memoir writing in very engaging ways. Your combining of Ecodata, Ecomedia, and Ecoaesthetics highlight the power of interdisciplinary approaches. I especially appreciated your concluding focus on “an ecology of relation.” Your focus reminded me of E.O. Wilson’s notion of biophilia and recent articles I’ve read about forest bathing. I also recently read in my local newspaper about the temporal effects human interaction is having on mammals in forests, forcing many (especially larger) mammals to sleeping and waking behaviors (see this article from Science Magazine, for example: How might we lessen our human footprint while still interacting with the natural world?

    • V says:

      Hi rlmurray, thank you for your interest and your references. My main references are Eduardo Kohn, “How forests think”, with really great tracks to follow how to read non human beings signs, as well as Karen Barad and her powerful concept of intra-action in “Meeting the Universe Halfway”.

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