On the oblique imperative: an examination of the obfuscating nature of spectacle in art and conservation

Wilson, Mark ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4123-2118 and Snaebjornsdottir, Bryndis (2017) On the oblique imperative: an examination of the obfuscating nature of spectacle in art and conservation. In: 31st Annual Meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts: Out of Time (SLSA 2017), 9-12 November, 2017, Arizona State University, Tempe, US. (Unpublished) Full text not available from this repository.

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Official URL: http://litsciarts.org/slsa17/


As artists working serially with specialists in other fields, (botany, museology, zoology and many more) a key consideration in the preparation of artworks is in presenting an understanding of this complexity – that the multiplication of approaches by which it is possible to examine things demands ever more profound sensitisation to contexts, ecologies and an acceptance of what may always be beyond our understanding and control. In this paper the challenge is explored through the lens of a single event, which came to light during research for an art installation Matrix (2016) by Snæbjörnsdóttir/Wilson. Central to the project, is a study of architectural variance in polar bear dens and their proximity and relation to a nexus of human activity in the Arctic – comprising indigenous peoples, the oil industry, conservation agencies and tourism. We examine the principles embodied in the act of ‘searching’ – in this case, an oil industry surveillance flight over the coastal terrain of the northern Alaska using forward looking infrared technology (FLIR) to identify late autumn denning sites. The disturbance that this particular search prompted is a trigger for conjecture in relation to interspecific protocols and the questionable primacy of ‘sighting’ in eco-tourism. The oblique view, suggesting what is beyond simple sight is a tactic of artists whose view is always greater and more complex than what it is s/he may present. We discuss how this mechanism of strategic withholding and disclosure is significant in relation to how humans must now consider the environmental jeopardy – of habitats and species.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Fine Arts
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2019 15:05
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 18:45
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/4353
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