Seeing is questioning: prompting sustainability discourses through an evocative visual agenda
Dana C Thomsen, Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast
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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.
art; Australia; autoethnography; environmental change; interdisciplinary; learning for sustainability; photography; social-ecological change; visual communication
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