Dr. Mhairi Sutherland

What are the levels of cultural visibilities of past conflict that can be discerned in the landscape and how may these be approached through arts practice? Addressing this question begins with a selected chronology of sight and its mediations through early optical technologies and the later emergence of photography. The evidential base of the constructed nature of vision has been traced through the history of the camera obscura and the stereoscope as examples of optical technologies, each reflective of the cultural distinctions of previous epochs that were characterised intellectually and empirically, by monocular and binocular perspectives. The entwined narratives of photography and territorial appropriation are traced through examples of topographical survey images of the nineteenth century American west. The influence of the visual and the landscape genre in the formations and study of cultural landscape is discussed through its origins within the geographical discipline, including the study of militarised landscape. The contemporary project of archaeology and its concerns with recent conflict provided the framework through which to discuss an interdisciplinary approach between artistic and academic practices. Therefore, the visible and the invisible have been identified and understood as co-existent functions in the operations of vision and models of empirical apparatus studied, through the ideological and instrumental characteristics of photography, as a geopolitical strategy and as signified in the landscape. It is argued that the dominance and epistemology of seeing is ambiguous and contradictory, and that the strategies of the visible and the invisible, in this case study of a landscape marked through the preparedness for conflict, may be investigated and critiqued through art practice and the re-appropriation of strategies of visibility through the use of imaging technologies.

Institution Affiliation
Date Commenced
Spring 2007
Date Completed
Spring 2012

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