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Photographic Ecologies

Schaefer, William

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In his body of photographs, Samalada (2008), the Chinese artist Adou uses extremely expired film; the resulting artifacts—marks of the animal, vegetable, and mineral matter composing film surfaces—are as visible a part of the photographs as their depictions of relations among humans, animals, plants, cultural artifacts, earth and sky in southwestern China. Adou and other photographers in China, Japan, and the West working in a time of environmental crisis understand film itself in ecological terms. The very materiality and forms of photographic images are emergent from and interact with larger ecosystems of matter, bodies, spaces, surfaces, markings, liquids, pollution, light, and the atmosphere, thereby allowing the human to be seen as one among many contingent agents within ecological processes. Photography thus becomes a crucial site for staging and rethinking fundamental questions of the relations between culture and nature—and for learning to picture the Anthropocene.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 14, 2017
Publication Date Sep 14, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date Sep 14, 2018
Journal October
Print ISSN 0162-2870
Electronic ISSN 1536-013X
Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 161
Pages 42-68
Public URL


Published Journal Article (671 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the author’s final version of the article which was accepted and published in the journal October.

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