Images Out of the Deep: Ecologies of Extraction and Regimes of Visibility
This doctoral project investigates the relationships between the surface of the image and the depth of the earth. In the face of ecological disaster and extractive ruination, a heightened attention to the underground sees a parallel in the contemporary centrality of the ‘deep’ in relation to so-called AI, deep learning, or data mining. The paradigm of depth extends from geology to the domains of machinic cognition, yet this extension is not purely metaphorical: it is precisely through these ‘deep’ ways of sensing and knowing that humans can see, and excavate, the depths of the earth.
Departing from an analysis of the colonial genealogies of geology and image-making, I argue that the present-day entanglement of extraction and visibility regimes cannot be understood without a critical examination of the historical co-production of the imperial scopic and geological imaginations. To this aim, this practice-based research project mobilises a series of entwined, paradigmatic historical and contemporary cases to explore the multiscalar relationships between more-than-human ways of seeing and the geological column through film and image-making. On the one hand, the project considers the ways in which an entangled understanding of extraction and visibility can contribute to unsettling the opposition between surface and depth, human and machine, representation and operation. On the other hand, it explores the potentials of visual forms of knowledge production to foster processes of restorative environmental and social justice.