The Figure of the Guide: Mediating the Arctic Terrain (doctoral research)

The Figure of the Guide: Mediating the Arctic Terrain is an artistic research project that seeks perspectives on the mediating agency of customary geopolitical, geohistorical and geoaesthetic approaches to the Arctic region, through live-narrated image performance constructions and essayistic film-experiments with collaborative live-editing.

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  • field work


  • social sciences

Project Keywords

  • human dimensions / infrastructure / cultural features
  • human dimensions / attitudes,preferences,behavior
  • human dimensions / infrastructure
  • human dimensions / social behavior
  • human dimensions / socioeconomics

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While Svalbard often functions as visually representative of the High Arctic, this extraordinary archipelago can in many ways be regarded as a regional anomaly. This makes Svalbard an interesting place to explore the figure of the guide as a tool to investigate and politicize the mediating agency of customary geopolitical, geohistorical and geoaesthetic approaches to the Arctic region, within the domains of both arts and science. An idea central to the research is thus that of the image-political Arctic – a fundament explicitly related to artistic practice, but also to the Arctic’s neo-colonial location in the context of environmental crisis. In this sense, the topic of the research hinges in the intersections between environmental histories and their mediation; imaginary geographies and their materialities. It bridges anthropological debates on practice and the construction of knowledge with contemporary discourses on decoloniality and materiality, which allows for modes of inquiring that lack previous research: Through a critical approach to the notion of the essayistic film-experiment, and use of collaborative live-editing, the research brings together questions of 'how to construct an altered sense of historical / contemporary narrative?' with 'how to share authorship and ownership in a live-situation?'. Because, this situates and skills the guide in a context of image production and political economy across artistic and scientific research. Designed as a consecutive series of film-experiments that uses years of fieldwork material from Svalbard, the PhD project more generally seeks perspectives on how artistic practices may enable a shift in focus from that of representation to that of mediation, while speculating on the political and aesthetical implications of such a shift.

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