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Title: No more elsewhere : Antarctica through the archive of the Edward Wilson (1872-1912) watercolours
Author: Gould, P. E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 1814
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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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.
Supervisor: Rendell, J. ; Buchli, V. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available