ARP & Submersive Aesthetics

ATHERTON, Michelle (2015). ARP & Submersive Aesthetics. In: Space and Place Project: 6th Global Meeting, Mansfield College, Oxford University, U.K., 03 - 05 Sept 2015. (Submitted)

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The video ARP and paper Submersive Aesthetics explore what might be at stake in an act of submersion in a space of perpetual darkness. The video and paper draw on an actual tourist trip taken in 2012, where three passengers travelled in a submersible to a depth of 2,000ft below sea level just off the coast of Roatan, Honduras. The video and paper present differing encounters with a state of submersion predicated on the view through the submersible’s thirty-inch porthole. For centuries we imagined the ocean as a horizontal void, stretch for nautical mile after nautical mile across the circumference of the planet. In the twenty-first century technology is positioning the seas vertically as we reach into deeper and deeper water. Renowned environmentalists sate that exploitation is outstripping exploration as the Abyssopelagic becomes a new frontier, but one that denies all inter-subjective encounters. In the video ARP no human presence is ever seen; there is only audible reference to released oxygen and creaking steel reinforcing the separation of the confined and claustrophobic space of viewing - the sub, and the fluid space of submersion. The video sinks the audience into the space of the hydrosphere, where the human is unmoored from the known centralities of the terrestrial. The paper proposes that the dynamic, blue-black materiality of the ocean contests anthropocentric modes of knowledge by exploring a collective encounter with a state of submersion. It asks what happens when we are confronted with the space of alterity? What is it to find oneself submerged in a state that is overwhelming and fluid, with no perceivable exterior? To be totally contained and then immersed, on all sides, and crucially from above: to be surrounded by a different state – liquid, fluid, yet solid in its pressure. What happens when we recognise the primordial, but the primordial does not recognise us? Is it possible that such a decentring environment might enable other configurations?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Depositing User: Michelle Atherton
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2016 15:23
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 16:21

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