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Antisubjectivism and the (spectral) return of consciousness in landscape research
conference contributionposted on 2016-01-01, 00:00 authored by Simon GrennanSimon Grennan
This paper analyses the changing conceptions of consciousness within landscape research over a critical period from the late 20th century to the present. The 1980s and 1990s mark a radical shift in the framing of consciousness away from psychological, perceptual, or experiential perspectives towards an ontology of consciousness as signifier, cultural artifact, and ideology. In cultural geography and the visual arts, these reframings can be characterised as anti subjectivist in that they do not attempt to problematize human consciousness so much as deactivate it and disqualify it from discussion. I draw out the theoretical and critical foundations of these antisubjectivist approaches as well as the subsequent opening out of the notion of landscape in more recent discussion. This ‘opening out’ implicates a more complex reengagement with minds, bodies, and landscapes and with the contested distinctions between subject and object. At the same time however, consciousness is seldom formulated explicitly within the literature and hence consciousness often occupies a spectral presence in the landscape of landscape research. I use one of my own paintings, Dalek in Landscape, to presage the discussion and attempt to highlight the tensions between these ideological, cultural and biological dimensions of consciousness at play within the landscape idea. Given the broader adoption of these anti-subjectivist developments within the academy, the example of landscape serves as a potentially useful case study for thinking upon the changing conceptions of consciousness in cognate creative and academic disciplines.