Workshop Program

2011 Place and Placelessness

Online Graduate Student Workshop

“Seasons of Environmental History”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Panel 1 Gardens 900-1030 EST

Moderator: Jim Clifford, NiCHE, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presenters: Amanda Hooykaas

Panel participants: Naomi Calnitsky, Cheryl Sobie, Colin Tyner

Enduring Gardens: Woven by Friends into the Fabric of the Canadian Community

Amanda Hooykaas , University of Waterloo

Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Key words: public gardens, place-making, home-making,


“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. … A human being has roots by virtue of [her/] his real, active, and natural participation in the life of a community, which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future” (Weil, 1971, p.43). With this statement, Weil articulates how important the concept of sense of place is, and how roots, both figurative and otherwise, allow individuals to grow into themselves.

The psychological aspects of public gardens and the landscape, itself, have largely been neglected in academic literature. The main tenets of current public garden practices stemmed from works related to botanical gardening and urban landscape design. Public gardens, however, can play an important role in fostering a sense of place in both a historical and contemporary context. In this presentation, the impacts of such gardens will be considered through Canadian experiences using perceptual lenses offered by diverse writers whose work can be found in bodies of literature related to history, geography, fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and visual art. Concepts such as “place-making” which can foster “home-making”, for example, are intriguing and worthwhile areas of inquiry.

This paper explores the importance of “home” in gardens. The presentation also considers the importance of gardens to an individual’s internal (psychological) and external (social) home, particularly for those currently involved as volunteers at public gardens. The animating question here considers the role that cultivated gardens might play in an individual’s connection to landscape. This topic is explored through an examination of volunteer programs (popularly known as Friends of the Garden programs). Further, this presentation explores the role these gardens play with respect to the unique Canadian sense of place and well-being found within urban public gardens throughout the year.

Panel 2A Nature and Politics 1100-1230 EST

Moderator: Daniel Macfarlane, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Presenters: Anjuli Grantham, Nathan Clarke

Panel participants: Gregory Rosenthal, Alexis Vrignon, Robin O’Sullivan, Cheryl Sobie, Elsa Devienne

Fishing at Karluk: Nature, Technology, and the Creation of the Karluk Reservation in Territorial Alaska

Anjuli Grantham, Baranov Museum

Location: Kodiak, Alaska, USA

Key words: Native reservations, salmon, techno-nature


The Alutiiqs of Karluk, Alaska were granted a reservation in 1943 that included the waters surrounding one of the most prolific salmon rivers in Alaska. This paper argues that conflicts over fishing gear, specifically the beach seine and purse seine, were the primary reason for the creation of the reservation. Canners improved the beaches of Karluk to make them more amenable to beach seining operations and in doing so created racially and technologically exclusive fishing areas. Karluk beach seiners, employees of the Alaska Packers Association, were barred from prime fishing beaches and struggled to make a living due to the segregated fishing beaches, the scarcity of Native-owned fishing vessels and gear, fishing regulations that limited the effectiveness of the beach seine, and increased competition from purse seiners. This case study demonstrates the centrality of fishing gear to the history of commercial salmon fishing.

Confronting the Tragic City: The Impacts of the 1970 Earthquake and the Peruvian Revolution in Chimbote, Peru

Nathan Clarke, Minnesota State University Moorehead

Location: Moorehead, Minnesota, USA

Key words: earthquake, boomtown, state planning


On May 31, 1970, an earthquake registering 7.9 on the Richter scale shook the Peruvian department of Ancash. The social and economic impact of the earthquake devastated an area the size of South Carolina, destroying up to 80 percent of the buildings and killing well over 70,000 people. The impact of the earthquake in the highlands, including in Huaraz (the departmental capital) and especially the city of Yungay, which was almost instantaneously covered by an ice-and-mudslide, have been studied in depth (Bode 1989; Oliver-Smith 1986; Carey 2010). I propose to de-Andeanize the study of the 1970 Peruvian earthquake to the focus on its impact on the coast, particularly Ancash’s most important city, Chimbote. While the rates of mortality and destruction in Chimbote were not as devastating as in the highlands, the earthquake provided the Peruvian state with the opportunity and legitimacy it had long sought, and allowed it to attempt to structure and help Chimbote become an orderly industrial city and port.

In the three decades prior to the earthquake, Chimbote had undergone a drastic transformation. Once a sleepy fishing hamlet, it became home to both the nation’s only steel mill and the center of the fishing industry, at that time the largest in the world. The population boomed from 4,000 to over 200,000, as tens of thousands from all over Peru migrated to Chimbote to find work in the dozens of heavily polluting factories, on the hundreds of boats, or in related economic (secondary and tertiary) sectors. Even though there were many job opportunities, the city’s economy could not handle the entirety of the migrant flow: while it was at once one of the place where great fortunes were created, at the same time Chimbote was an eminently impoverished city. Migrants established informal squatter communities around the town limits; by 1970 close to 200,000 people lived without access to water, electricity, and sewerage. Only the downtown core, had these social services and paved roads. The thousands of children living in the shantytowns had limited educational opportunities and there were less than 100 hospital beds for the entire population. A boomtown culture emerged as well, as the city center housed hundreds of bars and cantinas and the outskirts were home to many brothels where fishermen would squander their wages on wine and women. In thirty years, Chimbote had become swirling mass of pollution, prostitutes, and poverty. The city’s situation had became so chaotic that a Lima-based journalist (in)famously described it as a ‘tragic city.’ Needless to say, it was a major concern for the Peruvian government.

Following the earthquake, the Peruvian government – a nationalistic, ant-oligarchical, left-leaning military junta – seized upon the opportunity to establish some order in this city that had become nearly uncontrollable. The state proposed to rebuild Chimbote. Developed by military government in conjunction with advisors from the United Nations Development Program, this ambitious program sought to make Chimbote into Peru’s second more important city, an industrial, economic, and recreational center that would integrate Chimbote with other burgeoning coastal towns as well as with the highlands and even into the Amazon. With new infrastructure, modern housing, a universally, major hospital, and ample land set aside for industry, Chimbote was set to challenge Lima for economic primacy: it would become the center of a new Peru. The Chimbote Development Plan, I argue, was an attempt to recreate Chimbote in the image on the political regime that was participative, progressive, and Peruvian (the regime claimed a third way in politics, neither communist not capitalist). The state used the extraordinary power imbued upon it by the crisis of the earthquake to enact its ambitious plans without having to battle (much) with the local population, or that was the theory. Ultimately, the state’s overly ambitious plans for Chimbote were snuffed out because the nation’s economy collapsed. So, like the Peruvian Revolution itself, Chimbote became a city of failed aspirations, brought down by outside factors.

Panel 2B Seasoned Perspectives 1100-1230 EST

Moderator: Michael Del Vecchio, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Presenter: Glenn Sandiford, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Panel participants: Amanda Hooykaas, Jeffery Doherty, Alexandra Winton, Cristina Silaghi, Polly Knowlton Cockett

Deepe in the Adirondacks

Glenn Sandiford, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Location: Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA

Key words: guiding, conservation/preservation, parks, biography

This talk will examine the literary challenges and strategies involved in crafting an environmental biography that has been accepted for publication by SUNY Press. My book, structured around three layers of seasons, blends environmental history, oral history, and creative non-fiction.

Tony Deepe guided fishermen and hunters in the Adirondack Park for half a century, beginning at the end of WWI when he was just ten years old. He continued guiding in adolescence and young adulthood, first at a local hotel and then as an independent private guide. He eventually acquired a sportsman’s lodge that he had built with his own hands, where he cemented his reputation as one of the finest guides of his era.

In that lodge, and in the sprawling wilderness around it, hundreds of clients found beauty, sanctuary, adventure, and fellowship. Every year, for a week or a month, they fished, hunted, trapped, hiked, paddled, or just sat around a fire listening to Deepe’s yarns.

But Deepe was more than a charismatic guide who knew trout, whitetail, and tall tales. Attuned to the rhythms of the Adirondack woods, he learned the value of limits, and acquired a multi-generational perspective about nature. His personal convictions matured into an ethic that blended conservation with preservation — not without tension and contradiction. This ethic, expressed in word and deed, indirectly “guided” hundreds of clients as well as many adoring children. Deepe died in 1994, but his life remains a potential guide to current and future stakeholders in the Adirondack Park.

This presentation about my biography of Deepe will describe the narrative structure by which I blend multiple genres of writing and scholarship. That structure includes a three-layered theme of seasons — the natural seasons, the developmental seasons of Deepe’s life, and the historical seasons of the Adirondack Park, which was created just a few short years before Deepe’s birth. The book also features excerpts of Deepe’s tales, conveyed in his own words, that reflect the sub-theme of each chapter.

Panel 3 Tourism and Recreation 1300-1430 EST

Moderator: Jessica Marx, Lund University, Lund, Scania, Sweeden

Presenters: Jared Taber, Robin O’Sullivan

Panel participants: Alexis Vrignon, Erin Neufeld, Glenn Sandiford, Jessica Jones, Alexandra Winton

Establishing the Hunting Season in Missouri: Wildlife Restoration and State Authority, 1930-1970

Jared Taber, University of Kansas

Location: Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Key words: hunting, wild turkey, wildlife management, hunting seasons


The establishment of a wild turkey hunting season in Missouri in 1960 represented a negotiated settlement between local interests in recreation and subsistence and the practice of wildlife science by the state government. The records of the Missouri Department of Conservation emphasize the importance of accommodating hunters within the state without compromising the scientific practices used to restore game populations. This approach meant that the state sought to control the nature of local hunters just as much as they sought to control the nature of wildlife. While not successful in establishing absolute control over nature, the Department of Conservation did establish a rough and ready balance between the needs of wildlife and the interests of hunters. The successful establishment of a hunting season required a concerted effort on the part of wildlife scientists to cultivate the trust of local residents while working to increase wildlife populations. This case study suggests that environmental historians tend to underestimate the successes of wildlife management officials during the mid-twentieth century. Scholars look at wildlife management officials as either the guardians of elitist privilege or as second class ecologists, their real abilities in managing wildlife during the mid twentieth century consisted of mediating between the biological needs of game species and human behavior. These negotiations began with the first wildlife surveys in the state during the 1930s, which entailed partnerships with local communities, and continued through the incorporation of local interests in the management of wild turkey restoration efforts during the 1950s.

Synthetic Seasons: Fall Foliage, Tourism, and Techno-Nature

Robin O’Sullivan, Troy University, Dothan

Location: Dothan, Alabama, USA

Key words: tourism, techno-nature,


My research project—an analysis of “techno-natural” phenomena—encompasses the methodological and epistemological diversity of the Network in Canadian History and Environment. This multifaceted inquiry investigates the dialogical relationship between the hunger for nostalgic ties to nature and the craving for ultramodern technology in our interconnected global culture. To illuminate this dialectic, I am analyzing how the dissolution of boundaries, both physical and conceptual, between rural and urban terrain facilitated the rise of “techno-natural” philosophies and locales. Techno-nature is a palimpsest, created through a dynamic process of bricolage and active hegemony. This interdisciplinary paper considers “techno-nature” in past, present, and future forms, with a particular focus on “Fall Foliage” tourism. My study addresses how humans have visited, idealized, and mapped the brilliant colors of autumn, both literally and metaphorically; and how the transient seasons of actual places have developed permanence in the virtual realm. It integrates perspectives from history, literary and cultural studies, political science, sociology, urban studies, and the natural sciences.

Baudrillard scrutinized the culture of the “simulacrum,” marked by hyperreality, in which the distinction between the real and the imaginary imploded. Today’s synthetic environmental “simulacra” may be said to display natural scenery without corporeal referents. Authenticity, however, is complex and nuanced. The static binary opposition of “genuine” vs. “counterfeit” can be destabilized in the age of credible simulations. These categories are historically contingent; the dichotomies should be contested with more fluid perspectives. Online diversions like the Fall Foliage iPhone/iPad App and mock excursions in IMAX movies like Fall Colors Across North America have not negated the viability or allure of bona fide tourist expeditions. “Videophilia” and “biophilia” co-exist and may, in fact, engender one another. The phenomena of techno-nature demand recognition of scientific and philosophical hybridity, not rhetorical strategies defending romantic notions of purity and balance in a purported natural order.

Panel 4A Migrant Labour 1500-1630 EST

Moderator: Jennifer Lee Johnson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Presenters: Gregory Rosenthal, Naomi Alisa Calnitsky

Panel participants: Nathan Clarke, Jessica Jones, Anjuli Grantham, Colin Tyner

Life and Labor in a Seabird Colony: Hawaiian Guano Workers, 1857-1870

Gregory Rosenthal, State University of New York

Location: Stony Brook, New York, USA

Key words: seasons of labour, guano, workscape


During the period 1857 to 1870, hundreds of Native Hawaiian men traveled from their homes in the Hawaiian archipelago to tiny coral islands along the equator in the Central Pacific, thousands of miles from home. They came to mine bird guano for American companies on newly annexed U.S. territory: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island. The men’s work introduced them to the “seasons” of life and labor on an island full of birds. They developed a new sense of space, time, and nature. The men relied on the patterns of weather and the behavior of seabirds to acquire the best quality guano. But in certain seasons, rain and wind worked to decrease the efficiency and increase the hazards of guano mining, while animal pests – from tiny rats to soaring frigatebirds – harassed workers, or fed them, depending on the circumstances. A Hawaiian laborer’s sense of space and time shifted, significantly, towards a sense of his work environment as seabirds constructed it. He lived in a “workscape” that was the product not only of avaricious American businessmen and strict foremen, but of the millions of nesting seabirds whom, day by day, pulled apart and put back together the island and its surrounding ocean through ecological relationships they forged through acts of feeding, nesting, courtship, and reproduction. As a seabird colony, guano islands pulsed to various tempos of change and continuity. From the multimillion-year processes of geologic and evolutionary changes among volcanic islands, coral reefs, and seabirds to the daily rhythms of an individual red-tailed tropicbird mother feeding its young and defending its chick from predation, these islands abounded with “history,” with untold, ongoing stories. It was into this world made and re-made that Native Hawaiian laborers arrived for just over a decade in the nineteenth century. Through the use of primary documents in both English and Hawaiian, this paper explores the role of time and “seasons” in the experiences of Hawaiian men and Pacific seabirds on a guano island in the nineteenth century.

Locating Seasonal Migrant Cultural Formations in Central Otago

Naomi Alisa Calnitsky, Carleton University

Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Key words: seasonal migrant labour, music, New Zealand


This article highlights findings from oral history interviews and participant observation carried out with seasonal migrant workers transplanted from a Melanesian island nation, the Vanuatu archipelago, to New Zealand’s South Island vineyard and orchard district of Central Otago as part of a pilot seasonal migrant worker program that commenced in 2007.  The seasonal scheme, which trans-located able-bodied men for a three month working period, circumscribed the numbers of men required and the terms of contract.  New Zealand’s place as a recruiter and employer of Pacific Island migrant labour emerged largely from the 1950s onwards, and during this postwar period New Zealand has engaged and experimented with a host of Pacific labour projects, including recruiting from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and other island sources to serve its expanding manufacturing and horticultural industries.  Along with the labour power of the Vanuatu group came a musical culture centred in gospel choir music and the Melanesian string band.  Music functioned acted as a palliative to homesickness, and took the working group into closer contact with New Zealand communities, who served as spectators, supporters and contributors to fundraising initiatives for the overseas working group.  While this work scheme helped mitigate labour shortages in New Zealand, it showed historical continuities with patterns of circular Melanesian labour migration and indenture which characterized the South Pacific labour trade of the nineteenth century, and which integrated the islands of the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) with powerful colonial neighbours in Australia, Fiji, and New Caledonia. From a developmental perspective, the seasonal labour scheme fostered new dependencies upon New Zealand wages, and with the support of church groups who attempted to provide spiritual aid to the trans-located group, the group from Vanuatu would transition to a new migration regime which operated according to the needs of New Zealand’s growing seasons.

Panel 4B Imagining and Making Place 1500-1630 EST

Moderator: Andrew Watson, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Presenters: Polly Knowlton Cockett, Erin Neufeld

Panel Participants: Cristina Silaghi, Linnea Rowlatt, Jeffery Doherty, Elsa Devienne

Ephemeral and Enduring: Socioecological Cycles of Place-Making in an Urban Prairie

Polly Knowlton Cockett, University of Calgary

Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Key words: place-making, community, education


Strewn with the daily renewed petals of wild blue flax matching the vast prairie sky, the Natureground is alive with a myriad of colour under the early morning’s summer sun. Community volunteers, working side by side with city parks employees, arrive to tend the reclaimed and restored native biodiversity of the grasslands in the midst of urban encroachment and infestation by alien invasive plants and escaped ornamentals. Children from a day camp explore Whispering Woods and hunt for the interpretive signs depicting seasons and cycles of indigenous flora, fauna, and landforms through paintings, poetry, and prose by local artists, writers, and students. Graduate students from the nearby university hold an environmental education class in the sandstone amphitheatre, discussing ecological identity, place-based curriculum, and community engagement. As the summer wanes, teachers return to the schools nearby, preparing for another year of inquiry with their new students which includes explorations into these precious spaces at the precarious intersections of our natural and built environments.

Join me on a virtual peripatetic Jane’s Walk in Brentwood, a suburb in northwest Calgary, Alberta, to explore a variety of outdoor environmental projects. Discuss how these community- and school-based engagements have engendered a sense of place amongst their participants. Reflect on the sustainability of such engagements in the face of ever-changing dynamics and recurrent rhythms of school and community life. Our conversation together seeks to illustrate avenues where we might each contribute to a renewed season of in situ ecological mindedness.

Field season: the role of science in the development of place in Antarctica

Erin Neufeld, University of Canterbury

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Key words: Antarctica, place, science, field season


Antarctica has been a place of many things. For the Greeks it was a place of logical assumption, balancing the Northern hemispheres’ continents. For the whalers and sealers who came later, Antarctica was a place of rich resources. For the explorers of old, Scott, Amundsen, and the likes, it was a place of personal challenge and national empires. Today, Antarctica is these things and more, it is a place for science, for the wild, and for the imagination. And throughout all of these ages, Antarctica has been a place strongly defined by its’ seasons – accessible and inaccessible. Despite our advances in technology this is still the case. This paper explores the current notions of Antarctic place held by New Zealanders, focusing specifically on the role that the scientific field season plays on its’ development. Examining interviews conducted at Scott Base in the summer of 2010, the idea of field season will be defined and then applied to the understanding of what takes Antarctica from blank, white space to felt, coloured place. Drawing of Entrikins’ notion of ‘betweeness of place’ (1991) and Cronon’s connections (1992), this work presents the place of Antarctica as determined by scientific practice and linkages.

Panel 4C Ciencia, gobierno y comunidad: huellas bioticas en el campo y procesos democráticos en el archivo 1500-1630 (hora del este, EE.UU. y Canadá)

moderador: Bradley Skopyk, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico

ponentes: Pablo Corrral Broto, Julián Alejandro Osorio Osorio

participantes: Jó Klanovicz

De la tesis al público: Reflexiones sobre la práctica de la historia ambiental en (con)textos adversos

Pablo Corral Broto, L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, France

ubicación: Paris, France

palabras claves: digitalización y publicación de documentos, archivos digitales, democracia y historia, métodos históricos


Hoy en día, un historiador ambiental digitaliza tanto o más que cualquier centro de documentación. ¿Qué hacer con este material digitalizado una vez que se ha utilizado de la manera convencional (tesis, artículos, libros, etc.)? ¿Podría completarse la tarea de difusión hasta ser totalmente abierta? Estas cuestiones fueron las nos llevaron a realizar un proyecto de creación de un archivo digital para la historia ambiental en Aragón (España). Dicho archivo se creó a partir de la documentación consultada para una tesis de doctorado en curso en archivos «sin vocación ambiental», donde encontrar todo aquello relacionado con el medio ambiente implicaba consultar casi la totalidad del archivo. Evitar este esfuerzo a los que vienen detrás del autor inspiro esta nueva forma de «fuentes abiertas». El catálogo, se completó con fondos del propio centro relacionados con la historia contemporánea de la Comunidad Autónoma de Aragón (España). Puesto que la mayoría del material era fungible, es decir, desde documentos en papel hasta fotografías, el archivo exigió un trabajo de re-catalogación inesperado. Sin embargo, entrevistas y videos podrían completarlo en un futuro. A pesar de la innovación, el proyecto ha sido frenado debido a la falta de financiación en la actualidad. Las utilidades de esta forma de compartir fuentes primarias pueden incluso modificar la tarea de contrastación científica, puesto que el hecho de «brindar las fuentes» originales podría alterar el proceso científico en sí mismo. Si apenas unas décadas antes un doctorando no podía publicar o difundir nada en absoluto antes de leer, ahora pasamos a una forma de hacer ciencia mucho más pública y abierta. ¿Qué implica esta democratización en el terreno de las fuentes de una investigación? Reflexionar sobre esta y otras cuestiones subyacentes resulta imprescindible en un mundo cada vez más en línea y en acceso abierto. Más aún, en países, como la Europa del Sur, donde la pobreza económica no puede soportar las tareas de custodia y catalogación de fondos y archivos públicos y privados, esta forma de e-crear archivos puede ser una nueva responsabilidad investigadora, de justicia académica.

Agua y patrimonio: la construcción de identidad en Bogotá – Colombia, El caso de la cuenca del río Tunjuelo

Julián Alejandro Osorio Osorio, Universidad de Huelva España

ubicación: Bogotá, Colombia

palabras claves: Agua, patrimonio, marginalidad, ambiente, Tunjuelo y Bogotá


La pobreza y la exclusión social en Bogotá, se expresa en fenómenos de marginalización espacial, la mayoría en zonas periféricas y vulnerables a los embates de los fenómenos atmosféricos y geológicos. Rondas de ríos, pantanos y cuestas de montañas, están ocupadas en la actualidad por barrios donde habitan comunidades de bajos ingresos económicos y carencias materiales y de servicios públicos.

La cuenca del río Tunjuelo ha sido y es en la actualidad un territorio que en la historia de Bogotá, ha tenido un estigma de marginalidad, pobreza e invisibilidad política. Lo cual se ha traducido en la construcción de barriadas y comunas sobre zonas de alto valor ambiental, pero gran vulnerabilidad ante los desastres naturales, además del establecimiento de industrias mineras de alto impacto, y sumando a la ubicación del basurero de la ciudad en la zona de la cuenca del río Tunjuelo, han generado una serie de procesos sociales por la defensa de la cuenca (agua) a la vez de propiciar procesos de construcción de identidad desde la periferia y la marginalidad.

La cuenca del río Tunjuelo, es un espacio para entender las dinámicas y procesos que en América Latina se llama el ecologismo de los pobres, otra visón y proceso de los movimientos por un ambiente mejor, reclamando el derechos de las gentes al acceso libre e equitativo a los servicios ambientales, la protección y gestión comunitaria de los recursos. La creación de identidad defendiendo el territorio y el agua, en reacción al olvido, la marginalización y la contaminación, que las elites políticas, económicas y el estado, ha sometido a estas comunidades.

Plenary Environmental History and Film 1700-1900 EST

Moderators: Michael Del Vecchio, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada; Andrew Watson, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Short Films by: Amanda Hooykaas, Sinead & Patrick Earley, Cristina Silaghi

Participants will be asked to watch the three short films prepared specifically for the 2011 Place & Placelessness workshop, as well as choose an additional one or two films from a list provided (these will be films available free to view online). The short films will form the basis of the plenary, while the list of additional films will help to broaden the discussion.

The aim of the plenary discussion is to debate the uses, merits and drawbacks of using film to represent, study, research, teach and understand environmental history broadly conceived. Can film capture history effectively? Does using film create new research methods not available through traditional archive work? Will film, or YouTube, become an important component of teaching environmental history publicly and academically? What kinds of understanding does film provide that text or still images do not?

Lost in Space: Found in Place

Amanda Hooykaas, University of Wateloo

Short Film abstract:

This short film explores the relationships between place and self and history and future. Through an examination of creating a dwelling out of a space, this film attempts to capture the essence of Thoreau’s Walden Pond in today’s society. Compelling, thought-provoking, and aesthetic, this film challenges audiences to consider their own places in space, whether physically, spiritually, or otherwise.

Fire Season

Sinead Earley, Queen’s University & Patrick Earley, Langara College

Short Film abstract:

The largest wildfire in Alberta’s recorded history, known as the Bitumount Complex, has burnt over 750,000 hectares in the Waterways region of the province, north of Fort McMurray. Ground and aerial footage recorded from the frontlines and from helicopter provide a very immediate and visceral experience of the conflagration, captured by Patrick Earley, a member of a privately contracted fire crew. The absence of narration and social commentary in the film is an intentional choice, attempting to highlight the sounds and movements of fire and smoke as they consume and transform the landscapes they move through. Interpretation and discussion will be left to the workshop participants. The only voices presented in the film will be by way of radio dispatches and crewmembers as they work.

Fire season confronts provincial ministries, industries and communities across Canada annually, without relent. The film hopes to provoke thoughts on natural resource use, management and protection under the broader context of climate and environmental change.

Southern Quartet

Cristina Silaghi, University of Canterbury

Short Film abstract:

In Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience (1977), Yi-Fu Tuan connects seasonal variations to a cyclic sense of time; he writes about ‘…the pendulum-like swing of the seasons.’ Tuan regards seasons as natural rhythms reflective of astronomic time and its repetitions. Since my arrival in Wellington, New Zealand, I have become attentive to daily weather changes more than to changes of season. I have found aspects of every season surfacing within the span of hours or weeks. Rapid variations in temperature and humidity shape the colours, textures and rhythms of the city, pointing to a characteristically dynamic relationship between weather and place.

My short film proposes to inquire into patterns of time as made visible by place. I intend to highlight the traces of spring, summer, autumn and winter revealed in found objects, enduring structures, rehearsed activities, or accidental micro-events. A subjective, place-ralated, materially manifested map of the seasons will this take shape. I will set in dialogue detail and perspective, colour and texture, the visual rhythm specific to each shot and the temp of film cuts. Bearing in mind Charles Baudelaire’s Correspondences (1857) and Claude Monet’s depictions of London sites (1899-1901), I will reflect on various facets of the four seasons at work in my daily experience and environment.

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