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Capitalocene, cliches, and critical re-enchantment: What Akomfrah's Vertigo Sea does through BBC nature
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. Department of Media and Communication Studies.
2018 (English)In: Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, ISSN 2000-4214, E-ISSN 2000-4214, Vol. 10, no 1, article id 1546538Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the montage of archival and original material that makes up John Akomfrah's three-channel video work Vertigo Sea (2015), the frequent use of footage shot by BBCs Natural History Unit (producers of series like Planet Earth) stands out as an unusual choice. This article explores aesthetic-political implications of how this material is subtly repurposed, with focus on one of the interconnected issues dealt with in the work: nature and the Capitaloscene. What does Vertigo Sea do to and through these BBC nature images? Which artistic strategies are involved and for which ends? Is the kind of ecological pathos already framing the original material itself critically transformed and if so in which senses? Does Vertigo Sea merely go for a reproduction of the natural beauty often attributed to original material, and as simply juxtaposed with terrible images, or does the repurposing also entail an alteration of the very notion of natural beauty? This article critically explores all these questions mainly through the frameworks of Situationist detournement, Deleuze's ideas about art and cliches, and Adorno's notions of authentic art, re-enchantment, and natural beauty-frameworks that are conversely critically discussed through Vertigo Sea. It aims to reveal Vertigo Sea as on the one hand an experiment in finding vital artistic strategies for re-enchanting (in non-idealizing ways) planetary nature in the Capitalocene, and as on the on the other hand a thematization of the difficulties in doing so. While appearing among a contemporary art scene increasingly concerned with local and/or global relations having to do with ecology in this new era, Vertigo Sea presents us with a highly original case primarily through its unusual choice of main source material and its complex treatment of this material.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018. Vol. 10, no 1, article id 1546538
Keywords [en]
Vertigo Sea, Akomfrah, situationism, detournement, Deleuze, Adorno, re-enchantment, natural beauty, BBC, Capitalocene, Anthropocene
National Category
Studies on Film Art History Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-70774DOI: 10.1080/20004214.2018.1546538ISI: 000451992600001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85057751150OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-70774DiVA, id: diva2:1271435
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2014-1330Available from: 2018-12-17 Created: 2018-12-17 Last updated: 2019-01-11Bibliographically approved

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Nilsson, Jakob

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