Preliminary Discussion of Methods

Framing Question: How can consideration of the worlds artists create visualize proposed names for a new Epoch

Focus Question: In response to the Anthropocene, how do artists and scholars construct the Capitalocene, Chthulucene, and Plantationocene in order to elicit particular types of activism?

The wording of this question is not where I would like it to be, but it will progress as I read more and develop it! At this point in 499 we are beginning to focus on research methodologies. My topics and questions lend themselves to a mainly literary-based approach but I am hoping to find a way to connect with some of the artists and scholars I am going to talk about ro go see some of the artwork I am discussing. 

The artists and artwork I will argue aid in visualizing proposed names for a new epoch will not be directly intended for that purpose. I will discussing the artist’s intent as well as my own interpretation of the work and how I think it fits into conversations about various proposed “-cenes”. This lends itself well to an arti-historical framework of research and discussion. As one would in an art history paper, I will discuss the context of the work, my own interpretation, and how it speaks to my argument. I will begin my research by developing an understanding of the “-cenes” I plan to deconstruct, the scholars conceptualizing them, and context from which they were conceived. At the same time, I am collecting names of artists that create worlds which I could argue relate to these “-cenes”. 

A question that is arising for me is how far I can go interpreting worlds. For example, activist/environmentalist artist John Sabraw gleans pigment from polluted rivers by filtering out harmful chemicals and heavy metals. Is there an assumed world created around his work? Could one interpret this act of gleaning pigment from pollution as a suggestion of a world whose conditions include pollution, and there is a necessity to collect for artistic expression, potentially due to scarcity of other materials? I am anticipating that as I research more artists and continue to grapple with how to present my own interpretation of an artists work without making unnecessary, reaching assumptions. 

As I develop a richer understanding of artists work and how I can best engage with it, I will analyze it within the context of the “-cenes” I am considering, and begin making comparisons, finding ground for critique and praise. As I mentioned above, I will ideally be able to connect with the artists and scholars I am discussing in some way. This will likely take the form of an interview or in-depth discussion of a piece I am able to engage with, however it will depend on the form that real-life engagement takes. 

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