Expecting plastic : Albatrosses and the discovery of 'culture'
Quigley, Killian. (2019) Expecting plastic : Albatrosses and the discovery of 'culture'. Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. 23(4), pp. 394-405. https://doi.org/10.1080/14688417.2019.1706613
Filmic, photographic, and poetic images of seabirds encumbered, weakened, and killed by anthropogenic plastic have gone viral. This essay asks what visual, generic, and affective modes such images invoke and invite. It postulates, first, that they give rise to, and work through, discernible conventions. It contends, second, that these images and their spectators tend to communicate via a kind of feedback loop, whereby human lookers-on recognise themselves, their societies, and their cultures in the contents of bird bellies. The essay suggests, furthermore, that this loop is a key element of these images’ power, but ironically compromises their capacity for testifying to the complex ecological, historical, and imperial contexts that subtend the scenes they display. By constantly rediscovering the signs of their own culture in the stomachs of dead birds, spectacles and spectators hazard reproducing a fixation that distracts from the broader situatedness of these encounters.
|Keywords||plastic; photography; albatross; Chris Jordan; midway; horror|
|Journal||Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism|
|Journal citation||23 (4), pp. 394-405|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||https://doi.org/10.1080/14688417.2019.1706613|
|Research or scholarly||Research|
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File Access Level
|Online||23 Jan 2020|
|Publication process dates|
|Accepted||16 Dec 2019|
|Deposited||15 Apr 2021|
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