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Eco-Photography: Picturing the Global Environmental Imaginary in Space and Time


Eco-Photography: Picturing the Global Environmental Imaginary in Space and Time

McManus, Karla (2014) Eco-Photography: Picturing the Global Environmental Imaginary in Space and Time. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Engaging with art historical, visual cultural, and ecocritical analysis, this thesis asks the question: why has the environment-in-crisis become a central focus in contemporary photography? 'Eco-photography' visualizes the global environmental imaginary, both representing and contributing to the planetary awareness of environmental risk. Defining eco-photography as a category of images that participates in critical ecological and environmentalist practices by maintaining the ideal of an earth in 'balance', I reveal the conceptual underpinnings of this body of images as a continually shifting set of social values and relations.

In Part I, I frame this category of eco-photography as a communicative genre that reflects and contributes to environmental discourse in public cultural spheres. The photographs I analyse employ realism as a rhetorical and aesthetic approach to envision the environmental imaginary in a direct and naturalizing manner. As such, eco-photography requires careful reading to understand how such images communicate, and especially the rhetorical, visual, and affective strategies that they employ.

Part II focuses on the temporal dissonance of eco-photography and the problem of expressing concern for the future using a medium that is bounded in time. I argue that eco-photography is best understood as a mode of temporal slippage that offers valuable insights into environmental concerns as they are evolving. Looking at examples of repeat photography, I analyse the discourse of objectivity and witnessing in eco-photography. Nuclear photography is considered in this section for its impact on our global sense of anxiety for the future. Eco-photography is seen to be a source of hope as it records for the future images of a world at risk.

Part III explores the deterritorializing impact of images and considers how the circulation of eco-photography is contributing to a sense of global cultural dislocation through the representation of local and global environmental justice issues. This section asks the question: how can photography help to visualize the complexity of humanity's relationship to the planet? I conclude by considering whether the cosmopolitan notion of a global citizenry of photography can be a positive force for promoting environmental change.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:McManus, Karla
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:3 December 2014
ID Code:979561
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 11:58
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:49
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