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Unsettled and unsettling landscapes: Exchanges by Jones, Read and Wylie about living with rivers and flooding, watery landscapes in an era of climate change

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This experimental article seeks to bring new approaches to landscape emerging in cultural geography into conversation with arts and humanities practice and scholarship which are focusing on matters of community, landscape and environment, and particularly vulnerable, watery landscapes. These approaches raise a whole host of questions about how changing and at-risk-landscapes are imagined, studied and lived in. In particular I (Jones) seek to bring the work of cultural geographer John Wylie into conversation with the work of the artist/academic Simon Read, with the purpose of asking; how might landscapes and lives within them be considered as settled, unsettled and/or unsettling? These notions of settling/unsettling offer purchase on various fraught questions about how we (individuals and communities) live with nature in place and landscape. Wylie’s work can be seen as an attempt to develop a practice- and performative-based post-phenomenological account of practiced landscape in which they are woven not only from presences (the dominant view), but also absences and exiles, and tensions between (fragmented) self and landscape, and more besides. Simon Read’s art practice and research seeks to map possible futures of vulnerable coastlines in relation to communities and landscape management plans. Ideas of temporal ecologies of place/landscape are opened up, which show that much of what makes a landscape what it is at any given moment is absent from the present moment and its condition. Landscape is process, and thus it is not, and cannot be seen as just in the here and now. It is a manifestation of on-going processes with the legacies of the past in place and also processes of possible futures, including the uncertainties of climate change.
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Keywords: Community; Read; Wylie; landscape; temporal ecology; unsettling; watery landscapes

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Countryside and Community Research Institute 2: Middlesex University 3: University of Exeter

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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