Uncanny Landscapes

  • Rupert Griffiths (Organiser)

Activity: OtherPublic engagement, outreach and knowledge exchange - Public Lecture/debate/seminar


Conference, exhibition and workshops

Uncanny landscapes is an exhibition, workshop and conference which brings together artists and academics whose work addresses ambiguity between subject, object and landscape relations. The uncanny (unheimlich) was perhaps most famously sketched out by Freud (1919). Defined as ‘”everything that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light.” (Schelling), the uncanny represents that which upsets, disrupts or disturbs our engagement with the world around us. ‘The Uncanny’ was a unique work in Freud’s oeuvre; unstable, oscillating between analysis and fiction itself blurring the distinction between the real and the imaginary. The idea of the uncanny has since been revisited and reworked in numerous ways, from the architectural to the technological uncanny. At its heart there remains the question of ontological ambiguity. Where are the boundaries between the self and the environment? The uncanny demands that this question is always answered with uncertainty and dissolution. ‘Uncanny Landscapes’ repeats these questions, asking how ambiguity is experienced and understood in terms of landscape and the perceiving subject. How does ambiguity or porosity between subject and landscape arise? How did subject and landscape ever come to be seen as distinct in the first place? Is the uncanny an affective trope or can it be considered as a by-product of distributed agency, a glimpse of a decentred self? Can the Freudian rubrics of the uncanny, such as doubling, compulsion to repeat, apparent telepathy, coincidence, omnipotence of thought, still translate to readings of landscape or is the uncanny located in a particular historical moment? How does the idea of return (e.g. Derrida’s revenant) create an ambiguous body/landscape? Does Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoid finally and gleefully jettison the subject in favour of an uncanny multiplicity? These theoretical perspectives are intended merely as momentary guides or loose anchors. The real questions revolve around how geographical thought can approach ambiguity as a framework through which to describe the experience of place and landscape. Topics might include but are not limited to: Flat ontologies. Vital materialism and de-centring of the human subject. Psychoanalysis and landscape. Occult landscapes / occult geographies. The technological uncanny. Atmospheres and affect. Paranoiac landscapes. Architecture / the built environment/ infrastructure and the uncanny. The event will consist of three strands; an exhibition with artist talks, workshops and finally a one day conference to complete the residency. The conference strand will take place on Fri 8th March 2013. Interested parties should send proposals for 20 minute papers, artists talks and artworks to [email protected] by Friday 14th December 2012. Uncanny Landscapes is organised by Rupert Griffiths and James Thurgill both are current Ph.D candidates in Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Period4 Mar 20138 Mar 2013