The photographer as environmental activist: politics, ethics and beauty in the struggle for environmental remediation

Scott, Conohar (2015) The photographer as environmental activist: politics, ethics and beauty in the struggle for environmental remediation. PhD thesis, Loughborough University.

Conohar Scott.pdf
Conohar Scott.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


This practice-based research study examines two questions in an effort to determine how the photographer can play a role in the promulgation of environmental activism. Firstly, I ask if certain aesthetic approaches to the documentation of industrial pollution can be regarded as antithetical to the values of environmentalism; in particular, I examine the use of the sublime and the role that beauty plays in documenting scenes of environmental despoliation. In response to this question, I describe the problems associated with establishing a counter-aesthetic position in my artistic practice, which is commensurate with environmental ethics. Secondly, I ask how photography can be used as a means of conducting environmental protest by working in solidarity with environmental scientists and activists, in the struggle for environmental remediation. In a bid to answer this question, I argue that the production and dissemination of the photobook is one method of realising the dissensual capacity of art to bring about the conditions necessary for remediation to occur.
Importantly, my practice proceeds through an understanding of debates ongoing in contemporary theory. In particular, I argue that Jacques Rancière’s conceptions of ‘dissensus’ (Rancière, 2010: 173) and the ‘politics of aesthetics’ (Rancière, 2004: 25) can be interpreted as a means of understanding how aesthetics can be used to enact a form of political praxis. Using Rancière and Murray Bookchin’s concept of social ecology as a basis for my artistic practice, I claim that photography can not only make the existent reality of pollution visible, it can also initiate a form of participatory democratic subjectivity, allowing the demands of the artist to become visible too. Moreover, in the design and dissemination of the three photobooks I have created, I make a case for a collaborative model of artistic practice, which extends beyond the medium specificity of photograph, and embraces multimodality and trans-disciplinarity, as a means of situating the photograph into a broader discursive field.

Additional Information:This thesis represents the written component of a practice based PhD. The practical aspects of the submission can also be found in the repository, and they are three phonebooks entitled: 'No Al Carbone Brindisi', 'Parys & Afon Goch' & 'Almasfuzito: An Index'. For a full understanding of the research project, please download these titles as well.
Keywords:Photography, Environmental politics, Activism, Industrial pollution, Remediation, Environmental Resistance
Subjects:W Creative Arts and Design > W213 Visual Communication
W Creative Arts and Design > W640 Photography
C Biological Sciences > C150 Environmental Biology
W Creative Arts and Design > W632 History of Photography
C Biological Sciences > C180 Ecology
W Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
W Creative Arts and Design > W210 Graphic Design
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:19746
Deposited On:05 Dec 2015 17:26

Repository Staff Only: item control page