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No More Elsewhere: Antarctica through the Archive of the Edward Wilson (1872–1912) Watercolours

Gould, PE; (2016) No More Elsewhere: Antarctica through the Archive of the Edward Wilson (1872–1912) Watercolours. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In the light of recent centenaries commemorating the heroic era of Antarctic exploration and the current focus on climate research in Antarctica, this thesis asks how art and writing, made out of observations of Antarctica through the archive, can inform contemporary questions regarding climate change. It pays specific attention to Edward Wilson (1872–1912) and the impossible practice of ‘en plein air’ watercolour painting in the extreme sub-zero conditions of the polar environment, and considers Wilson’s biography and watercolours through the early work of anthropologist Franz Boas (1858–1942) on the colour of water, and his later anthropological writing. Crossing over between art, anthropology, material culture and architecture, and engaging with feminist new materialism or, ‘how matter comes to matter’,1 and in the light of thinking on ecological and post-human subjectivity, this thesis takes up a critical position concerning the role of observation in the history of anthropology, science, and art. I employ a refractive methodology, informed by Rosi Braidotti’s ‘transposition’,2 and Sigmund Freud’s ‘Entstellung’.3 The refractive method gives the accent to the distorting and displacing effects of medium by practising and thinking through ‘elsewhere’. The artworks are initiated by copying from archival sources and result in drawings, watercolours, pin-board assemblages, blown-glass globes, moulded glass, wax maquettes, and re-enacted magic-lantern shows. Informed by Jane Rendell’s ‘Site-writing’,4 the writing is an ekphrasis, structured as a literary chiasmus, in which readings crossover, and refract through, each other. This chiastic ekphrasis is a material-discursive method, which combines art making and writing. It brings a feminist new materialist critical engagement with the race and gender normativity of Antarctic heroism, to argue that the archive of Antarctic watercolours can be interpreted to produce an ecological posthuman ethics and optics founded on ice rather than glass.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: No More Elsewhere: Antarctica through the Archive of the Edward Wilson (1872–1912) Watercolours
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1482106
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