An introductory Q&A with the Remote Sensing: Ice, Instruments, Imagination network.
Q: How did the Remote Sensing: Ice, Instruments, Imagination network come about?
It is perhaps appropriate that our interests started crossing during the pandemic on Zoom, as it were, remotely. We met in various online reading groups and seminars around topics of climate change, the blue humanities, and the Anthropocene. We discovered that we shared an interest in the role of the arts and the imagination in academic research, and as we converged across these different common grounds, we came to this project as a meeting point. It resonates with our respective research, through engagement with Antarctica, the philosopher Michel Serres, the North-West Passage, and the role of visuals and metaphors in science, and the technologies and history of remote sensing. We wanted to create a space where these topics can be approached from various perspectives, and new resonances explored.
Q: By definition, a CRASSH Research Network has an interdisciplinary question at its core. What is yours?
Remote sensing is a familiar term in science, but it has a number of aspects that are enormously relevant for the arts and the humanities. Among other things, the framework of remote sensing challenges our way of conceiving of the experience of bodies, the necessity of ‘being there,’ and the ways that data is produced and shared. These dynamics are pertinent to the larger dilemma of how individuals might experience and understand distributed concepts such as ‘nature’ and ‘climate change.’
At a time when fieldwork and other embodied practices are becoming more familiar in the humanities, we would like to interrogate some implicit assumptions about embodiment, locality, and what counts as ‘first-hand’ information. At the same time, remote sensing has (and continues to have) a political history, particularly in the polar regions, where regimes of empire, colonialism, and technoscience have powerfully shaped the understanding and of these landscapes. So we would like to explore what can be revealed by remote sensing, and what is obscured– that is, how might our senses be extended through instrumental and imaginative methods, and what are we overlooking when we look over a place from a distance?
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about this year’s convenors, speakers and attendees and the perspectives they bring to the discussion?
We have the pleasure of co-organising this year’s meetings with Charlotte Connelly and Dehlia Hannah, who both have rich backgrounds and expertise in exploring interdisciplinary questions and histories through art and education. Charlotte is curator at the Scott Polar Museum Cambridge and a doctoral researcher in history of science, with an interest in bridging the gap between archives and pblics. Dehlia, as a postdoctoral fellow of The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, runs the project ‘Rewilding the Museum’ at ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, as well as the editor of an interdisciplinary exploration of climate art and history, ‘The Year Without a Winter.’
For our speakers and network members, we have invited scholars and artists from different backgrounds, in science, history, philosophy, art, education, and geography. We are eager to connect this group’s activities with ongoing developments in critical remote sensing, Indigenous knowledge, and reflections on race and gender in the polar regions. We look forward to learning from, and reflecting with, these multiple perspectives throughout the year – and hopefully finding productive ways to work across and between disciplines to find new approaches to sensing across distance.
Q: What can we expect from Remote Sensing. Ice, Instruments, Imagination in 2022/23?
With the research group, we will explore multidisciplinary approaches to thinking and feeling our way into the cryosphere. Remote Sensing will be the theoretical framing, as well as a way to address these questions – in hybrid meetings, in a place like Cambridge, and in thinking about regions that are far away. We’ll plan to engage with questions such as: How do we engage with remote and hard-to-access spaces? What practices, besides direct experience, can give us access to experience across and through distances? What instruments and proxies do we use to sense environments? What historical traces inform ideas of remote sensing? How do artistic approaches respond to these questions?
For our meetings throughout the fall and spring, we will organise a mix of practical activities, short presentations, and open roundtable discussions. Presentations may include past research, guided readings, showing of artistic works, etc. – we invite a variety of so-called standard and non-standard formats to give various approaches space and to discuss some of our research questions there. Everyone is warmly welcome to discuss and contribute with their ideas!
Q: How can people learn more about your Network?
You can find out more on our network page. We will post network meetings on the CRASSH website and circulate this to our email list. You may also find our Twitter accounts (@KrothLilian and @ameliainahurry), but we also invite getting in touch with us via email directly via email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Written by Lilian Kroth and Amelia Urry.