Strata: A Geophotographic Fiction

Dean, C. 2017. Strata: A Geophotographic Fiction. Postcards from the Anthropocene. University of Edinburgh 22 - 24 Jun 2017

TitleStrata: A Geophotographic Fiction
AuthorsDean, C.
TypeConference paper

What if any relevance does Robert Smithson’s conceptual writing have in provoking an ontological discussion to expand conceptual thinking on artistic representations in contemporary art? I hope to open up creative geopolitical imaginaries to expand on processes of understanding, through the creation of a recent archival history of materiality.

I would propose an elaboration of Smithson’s idea of ‘speculative geology’ referred to in his project, ‘Strata: a Geophotographic Fiction, (1970), as setting the parameter for my archive. ‘Strata’ is described as a homage to the artistic imagination of geological time and the inevitable accumulation of entropy and decay. I was struck by the artist’s statement that his materials were of the earth but his subject was the immensity of geologic time. Additionally, the paradigmatic potential of art to provide shorthand access to the subject of representation of the Anthropocene is discussed by K. Robertson in her article titled, ‘Plastiglomerate’.

The on-going archive which I am in the process of compiling will situate itself in ‘Land Art’ pieces such as the work of Robert Smithson, to ‘Plastiglomerates’, as well as create a methodology for adding to the archive through the analysis of materiality, using Kent International airport as a prototype.
Through my research vehicle ARCA I recorded the now decommissioned Kent International Airport, specifically the 2749m runway built during the Second World War; too costly to dig up, sitting on a substrate of a depth of 3 to 5 metres. As proposals for its future are debated, the question arises as to how the nature of the materiality of the site and a consideration for its place in a geological time span, might influence a proposal for its future use?
My own methodology, which would add to the documentation, draws on forensic mapping techniques, thereby creating an empirical build-up of knowledge through methods used in archaeological digs, computational photography & Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI). These techniques are more commonly used in the field of forensic science, for example in imaging footprint and tyre mark. I will build up a taxonomy of objects which are read and analysed as relational to their environment, thereby situated in the material, but relational to a more expanded field thereby addressing the transcalar.

KeywordsAnthropocene, materiality
ConferencePostcards from the Anthropocene
Accepted author manuscript
Publication dates

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