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UAL Research Online

Dreamlands and Ecotones: How can a photographic language be constructed to explore the politics of landscape on the political equator?

Silva, Corinne (2014) Dreamlands and Ecotones: How can a photographic language be constructed to explore the politics of landscape on the political equator? PhD thesis, University of the Arts London.

Type of Research: Thesis
Creators: Silva, Corinne

This thesis is structured around a central overriding question: to what extent can the practice of landscape photography be used to make visible the politics of landscape in borderland territories?

Introduced by architect Teddy Cruz, the ‘political equator’ suggests an alternative politics of space through which to critically consider socio-economic and geopolitical processes associated with globalisation under neoliberal capitalism. This equator is based on a revised geography of the post-9/11 world, whereby a line drawn across a world map intersects at three contested desert territories: 1) the Mexico USA frontier; 2) southern Spain and northern Morocco; and 3) Palestine/Israel.

This concept and its implications for human mobility, porous frontiers and material readings of landscape are explored through my photographic practice. In this work I challenge the idea of ‘hard borders’ between sovereign nation-states and make new political and symbolic associations between the territories along the political equator.

Landscape can be seen as a cultural construct imbued with social uses and a more abstract set of desires. Photography as both a material and imaginative medium is able to simultaneously narrate and re-shape landscape. Through my three projects, Imported Landscapes (2010), Badlands (2011) and Gardening the Suburbs (2013) I examine and translate borderland territories. I produce photographs that suggest how these landscapes embody the contradictions of globalisation and carry the traces of past empires and geographies. I analyse the creation of a built environment and the construction of a post-natural landscape to suggest that our understanding of landscape – in ‘real-life’ and as it is aesthetically configured in images – is something materially arranged and a product of the imagination. My practice facilitates an imaginative engagement with potential future political sustainability or modification of these landscapes.

Visuality plays a pivotal role in the production of contemporary geo-politics. By exploring three of my art projects in relation to historical and contemporary visual representations of desert borderlands, political and symbolic readings of the desert emerge as inherently connected. This thesis creates an innovative connection between early photographic practices in landscape and their later critical and conceptual versions. The thesis considers the ways in which my work translates, critiques and revises these conventions.

I approach landscape phenomenologically, understanding it not as a static entity but as a process. This process is composed of and shaped by human and animal life, material object and place. Through an analysis of my own embodied engagement with landscape and my material and imaginative experience of landscape photographs, this thesis opens new ways of narrating the thresholds of the political equator.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

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Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 2014
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2014 13:49
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2021 08:14
Item ID: 6530
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/6530

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