the figure of the guide

This is a blog related to an artistic research project:

The figure of the guide: Mediating the Arctic terrain is an inquiry into guiding figures in constructing environmental imaginaries. On this ground, the research is attentive to the guide as a pathfinder and mentor that collapses distinct practices and temporalities of producing, presenting and living the geopolitical Arctic.

The research is developed from experiences and records of fieldwork on the archipelago of Svalbard which, while often functioning as visually representative of the High Arctic, in many ways can be regarded as a regional anomaly as it never has had any indigenous population. In this sense, the research more precisely uses Svalbard as a prism and the guide as a (contested) figure to investigate and politicize material-discursive practices in their skilled and situated dimensions, within the domains of both arts, science and educational enterprises.

Using experimental film-strategies in which I assemble and voice my fieldwork material, often in front of a live audience, my research explores how different value frameworks and knowledge spaces relate and interact to reproduce Arctic discourses. By exploring these as layered transmissions the aim of the research is to contribute to an understanding of mediation as something significantly different from representation – and with a speculation on the political and aesthetical implications of such an understanding.

Addressing the intersection of science, geopolitics and visual anthropology, the artistic research thus revolves around Arctic Cinema as a field of concern, rather than as a label for films portraying or documenting distant Arctic people and geographies. A field concerned with the contemporary condition for visual production in turbulent environments (Starosielski 2015), encompassing both social, engineered and natural ecologies, and thus a field which is itself productive of (and part of) the Arctic.