Panel: New Environmental Art Practices on Landscapes of the Polar Regions; Politics, Emotion and Culture (FARFIELD 1)
In this paper, I will address ways in which the North is accessed, understood, expressed and redefined through remote access to data and meta-phenomenological understandings of space, place and the beings that inhabit and traverse the North. How is this material used to build a new understanding of the North and in what forms? How does that understanding also rely on, and draw from, related non-technological datasets? In cultural expressions, data gathered remotely (e.g., animal telemetry) and data gathered from direct experience of place, might both contribute to a systemic structure, choreography or shape of a work, and also present alternative ways for artists to express understandings of space, place, history and politics. Examples of data used include the presence or absence of animals, humans, plants or toxins, or shifting boundaries of animal migration that defy political borders. I will discuss examples from my own work related to the Canadian North as well as the following examples from the Canadian Arctic: animal telemetric data, maps based on traditional land-use by indigenous residents, data related to human land-use (e.g., oil-gas activities), archival and historical information of passages through the Canadian North and my own geolocative information gathered traveling through Northern Canada. I will discuss how these data are interpreted or manifested in artworks. In my own examples, I will discuss particularly how the spaces of the Canadian North have been, and continue to be, redefined in our imaginations and realities due to human political battles over sovereignty, rights to oil and gas, shipping routes, etc. In addition, I will discuss how the recent access to Northern spaces – remotely through data, for instance through telemetry that reveals habitats of animals that extend beyond human borders, are affected by climate change and human use of land and arctic seas, as well as, how such data might present mystery beyond its dry information.
- Leslie Sharpe is a Canadian Artist who divides her time between Alberta, Canada, and Indiana University, Bloomington, where she is Associate Professor of Digital Art. Sharpe has been an artist in residence at P.S. 1 Museum/Institute for Contemporary Art in New York, The Banff Centre in Canada, and Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, and most recently at Ivvavik National Park in the Canadian Arctic. Her work has been exhibited at the Pompidou Centre (Paris), Banff Centre (Canada), Observatori festival (Spain), Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Finland), and in New York at P.S. 1 Insitute of Contemporary Art, Exit Art, The New Museum, Artists Space, and Franklin Furnace. Her writing has been published in Leonardo Electronic Almanac/MIT Press, Framework, New Observations, and in the forthcoming book Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Poles. Sharpe works primarily in installation and locative/mobile media projects, from works drawing on genre (crime stories to ghost stories) to recent works addressing the politics and history of place within the context of technology and climate change. Her current project Northern Crossings combines telemetric data of animals moving through the Arctic with her own movements in the Canadian North as well as raw materials gathered on-site, such as animal casts, photography, audio and video. Other recent works include Speculations at the Remote, a video work on the Alberta Tar Sands; and Fever, a locative walk for two locations of Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless transfers in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Cape Cod, and Poldhu, UK.
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