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STIBET | The bird’s eye view - A non-human perspective: Ecosemiotic Readings of Fiction and Art

How does one write a story or produce a piece of theater, rooted in the notion that humans are an invasive species, seen from the perspective of a salamander or white cattle egret, whose colonies are under threat?
When Jul 05, 2022
from 02:00 to 06:00
Where GCSC (SR 109) & Online
Contact Name
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 In an endeavor to shift perspective from a human vantage point to a non-human one, the work of Estonian semiotician Timo Maran is distinctly propitious. In his articles, “Deep Ecosemiotics: Forest as a Semiotic Model” and “The Ecosemiosphere is a Grounded Semiosphere - A Lotman Conceptualization of Cultural Ecological Systems,” further expounded upon in his Cambridge Elements edition, Ecosemiotics - The Study of Signs in Changing Ecologies, Maran outlines the potential applicability of the ecosemiotic method in the analysis of literary texts, artworks, and cultural artefacts. Maran praises the possibilities of utilizing a forest semiotic model, as he finds that the multiple layers of spatio-temporal and structural complexity, and autopoetic power of rejuvenation and resilience inherent to ecosystems - even in the face of anthropogenic-induced environmental disaster - is a fertile ground, so-to-speak, for gaining new perspectives on how to write, read, create, and criticize works of fiction and art that deal with environmental issues. Ecosemiotics encompasses concepts such as of intertextuality, intersubjectivity, auto-communication, boundaries and thresholds, and biotranslation, while interlacing literary and cultural studies, particularly ecocriticism with ecological anthropology and the biological sciences.

Over the course of this 4-hour Stibet workshop, following a comprehensive introduction into the ecosemiotic method, I will lead the participants in a collaborative close reading of two works, one from literary fiction and the other from contemporary art. We will also discuss how ecosemiotics could be valuable for broader interdisclipinary research beyond these mediums.

The first piece we will analyze is a short chapter from Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s Bangkok Wakes to Rain, called “Flight,” which functions within the narrative as a kind of interlude, where the author, adopts the voice of a non-human narrator, in which they describe the changing ‘Umwelt’ or ‘surrounding world,’ of cattle egret in Thailand. The second work we will examine is the participatory performance, “Lament Of The Newt” developed and staged in 2016 during the 11th Gwangju Biennale The 8th Climate, at the last existing rice field in Gwangju. The performance consisted of a number of encounters over the course of a year between the artist, Fernando Garcia-Dory, and the Hansaebong Dure community that maintains and advocates for the protection of the lonely rice paddy. The basis of the work is not only the vulnerability of the ecological microcosm that is surrounded by residential tower blocks on all sides, but also the extended socio-political resistance of the community to save it from the city council development plans to turn it into a highway junction.

Please register for this event on StudIP, and I wil provide you with the materials to review before the workshop. This is a live event at the GCSC. If you would like to participate remotely please email me , and I will arrange a hybrid option. 

 

// Candace Goodrich  (GCSC)

 

Bibliography

Maran, Timo. “Deep Ecosemiotics: Forest as a Semiotic Model.” Recherches Sémiotiques, vol. 39, no. 1–2, 2021, pp. 287–303. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.7202/1076237ar.

---. Ecosemiotics: The Study of Signs in Changing Ecologies (Elements in Environmental Humanities). Cambridge University Press, 2020.

---. “The Ecosemiosphere Is a Grounded Semiosphere. A Lotmanian Conceptualization of Cultural-Ecological Systems.” Biosemiotics, vol. 14, no. 2, 2021, pp. 519–30. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12304-021-09428-w. 

Nöth, Winfried. “The Topography of Yuri Lotman’s Semiosphere.” International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 2014, pp. 11–26. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877914528114. 

Ramos, Cristina. “Agro-Ecology, Collectivity and the Post-Pastoral: An Interview with Fernando García-Dory.” Berlin Art Link, 26 July 2020, www.berlinartlink.com/2020/05/22/agro-ecology-and-new-pastoralism-an-interview-with-fernando-garcia-dory.

Sudbanthad, Pitchaya. Bangkok Wakes to Rain: A Novel. Reprint, Riverhead Books, 2020.

The 8th Climate. “Fernando García-Dory + Dule Nale GB11.” Vimeo, uploaded by Gwangju Biennale, 27 Feb. 2022, vimeo.com/192992721.

 

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