Expecting plastic : Albatrosses and the discovery of 'culture'

Journal article


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
AuthorsQuigley, Killian
Abstract

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.

Keywordsplastic; photography; albatross; Chris Jordan; midway; horror
Year2019
JournalGreen Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism
Journal citation23 (4), pp. 394-405
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN1468-8417
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/14688417.2019.1706613
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85078411932
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range394-405
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Jan 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted16 Dec 2019
Deposited15 Apr 2021
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8vx16/expecting-plastic-albatrosses-and-the-discovery-of-culture

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