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Arresting visions: a geographical theory of Antarctic light

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2005
Number of pages342
Awarding Institution
  • University of London
  • Dodds, Klaus, Supervisor, External person
Place of PublicationLondon
  • University of London
<mark>Original language</mark>English


As a site at the margin of terrestrial systems, Antarctica disrupts the usual practices of visual representation. This thesis investigates, what I call, chronogeographical approaches to visual culture within the Antarctic terrain. The material and theoretical chronogeographies of vision are mapped through the action of light, to elucidate on the shifting terrain of form - that is
the Antarctic landscape. Historically, the thesis explores how the 1980s anti-mining campaign, organised by environmental groups challenged the political and visual hegemony of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties. The campaign highlighted the feedback between the circulation of images and initiatives to protect the Antarctic landscape. Situated within this visual economy, the thesis focuses on how representation demarcates abstract and imaginative spaces for the production of the landscape - creating fugitive images of Antarctic spatialities.
The thesis follows the fugitive testimony of the image through fields of knowledge, from the arrest and flow of landscape to the aesthetics of mobility. Critical art practice is considered as an interstice that highlights the conditions under which landscapes are given visibility, both cognitively and optically. A stratum of histories, mappings and sitings, structure the investigation into the transmission, materiality, and memory embedded in different media employed in the production of Antarctica. Through this sedimentation of geographies, the
thesis proposes that the limits of representation may be found in Antarctica. It is argued that this shattering of commonly available visual languages can be a means to aerate our creative explorations of place. From this site, broader issues about the economy of the visual and the limits of visibility are examined. The thesis concludes that only by attending to the complex geographies of the image can the geopolitical aesthetics of place be accounted for.