Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 20, Iss. 4 > Art. 9 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Seeing is questioning: prompting sustainability discourses through an evocative visual agenda

Dana C Thomsen, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast


Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


I explore the potential utility of visual imagery to engage viewers in connecting ways with dynamic social-ecological contexts. Constructing photographs in response to the mass stranding of birds (shearwaters) on the east coast of Australia in 2013, I demonstrate the potential of wildlife and landscape photography to represent the impacts of environmental change at personal, relational, spatial, and temporal scales simultaneously. In so doing, I suggest that the production and interpretation of photographs can lead to responses that: (1) foster attentive forms of vision in familiar contexts; (2) provoke reflexive self-examination and critiques of broader, complex systems; (3) develop emotional connections with those impacted by social-ecological change; and (4) provide a foundation for precautionary behavioral change in uncertain contexts. Consequently, ‘seeing’ is reconceptualized as questioning, not believing, and as a valuable contribution to learning for sustainability and resilience.

Key words

art; Australia; autoethnography; environmental change; interdisciplinary; learning for sustainability; photography; social-ecological change; visual communication

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087