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Visual Ecologies: Screening and Workshop

Film Screening: Bluespace
Q & A with Director Ian Cheney
Thursday, May 11, 2017
7 pm
Location: Baxter Lecture Hall

The documentary film Bluespace (70 min.) sets out on a creative expedition to two planets: Earth, where rising seas threaten our existence, and Mars, whose canals and ice offer science-fiction authors and astrobiologists the promise of terraforming and colonization. As climate and food scientists, riverkeepers, and Sandy survivors explore the challenges facing waterfront cities like New York and Venice, Ian Cheney questions our future relationship with the natural world as one of potential lifesaving cooperation or ill-fated attempts at domination.

No registration is needed to attend the film screening.


Visual Ecologies Workshop
Friday, May 12, 2017
9:30 am – 5 pm
Location: Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)

Lisa Cartwright, University of California San Diego
Victoria Di Palma, University of Southern California
Finis Dunaway, Trent University
Lynda Nead, Birkbeck, University of London
Jennifer Tucker, Wesleyan University

At a time of increasing threat to the climate and increasing pressure on climate science, the problem of how we imagine, describe, and document our relationship to the planet has never been more urgent. 

This one-day workshop investigates the ways in which forms of visual evidence, such as photography and film, condition our relationship to ecological change and affect our ability to respond, when necessary, to ecological crisis.  From the earliest days of photography to our present-day immersion in a highly media-saturated culture, the capacity of images to compel, confirm, disrupt, and challenge has always been important; as we move into a new era of doubt and transformation, what are the future limits and possibilities of the visual record to shape our understanding of the ecological system in which we are enmeshed. And what can we learn from past efforts to shape human relations to the planet using visual tools?  Scholars and artists working in a range of fields that includes Film, History, Art History, Communications, and Architecture, and on periods that span from the 19th century on into the future, come together to consider these critical questions, and to discuss a way forward.

Please register for the workshop by May 8 to
Lunch and refreshments will be provided for all participants.


Workshop Schedule

9:30 am - 10 amCoffee and Refreshments
10 am - 10:10 amIntroduction and Welcome
10:15 am - 11:15 amFinis Dunaway
The Strange Career of Lenny Kohm: How a Traveling Slide Show Saved the Arctic Refuge
11:15 am - 12:15 pmJennifer Tucker
Picturing Pollution: The Use of Photography in Environmental Lawsuits in Victorian Britain
12:15 pm - 1:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 2:30 pmLisa Cartwright
Land Use Photography and the Ecologies of Natural Power: The Kansas Wind and Power Project
2:30 pm - 2:45 pmBreak
2:45 pm - 3:45 pmVittoria Di Palma
Character and the Climatic Imaginary
3:45 pm - 4:00 pmBreak
4:00 pm - 5:00 pmLynda Nead
The Tiger in the Smoke: The Visuality of Post-War British Fog


Speaker Bios

Finis Dunaway is Professor of History at Trent University in Canada. His publications include Natural Visions: The Power of Images in American Environmental Reform and Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images, which received prizes from the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Canadian Association for American Studies.

Jennifer Tucker is Associate Professor of History, Science in Society, & the College of the Environment at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (2006) and, with the support of an NEH Public Scholar Award, the recently completed book manuscript titled "Facing Facts: The Tichborne Trial in the Victorian Imagination."

Lisa Cartwright is Professor of Visual Arts and Communication and a faculty member in the programs in Science Studies and Critical Gender Studies at the University of California at San Diego. Her books include Moral Spectatorship: Technologies of Voice and Affect in Postwar Representations of the Child (2008), Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine's Visual Culture (1995), and Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (co-author Marita Sturken, 2002, 2008, 2017).

Vittoria Di Palma is Associate Professor of Architectural History and Theory at the University of Southern California. She is co-editor of Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City (Routledge: 2009) and the author of Wasteland, A History (Yale: 2014), which received several awards, including the 2016 Herbert Baxter Adams Prize from the American Historical Association and the Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award by the Society of Architectural Historians.

Lynda Nead is Pevsner Professor of History of Art at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on the history of British visual culture and her forthcoming book The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Post-War Britain will be published by Yale University Press in September 2017.

Ian Cheney is a documentary filmmaker and runs Wicked Delicate Films, a documentary film production company. His films include The Search for General Tso (2014), Truck Farm (2011), and The City Dark (2011), which was nominated for an Emmy. King Corn, a film he co-wrote and co-produced, won a 2008 Peabody Award.



Visual Ecologies is organized by Dehn Gilmore and Catherine Jurca, professors of English in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech.