HLC Annual Report 2015

The HLC Team has submitted its annual report to the Leverhulme trust, looking back on the second year of the network and its achievements, including the Harvard conference and our commissioned works: click here to read it. The previous report can be read here.


Robert MacFarlane in New Statesman on Nature Writing

The Hen Harrier, facing extinction

Robert MacFarlane has written for the New Statesman on ‘nature writing’ in the UK and its cultural and political importance – click here to read –  – responding to Mark Cocker’s critique of ‘new nature writing’ for the same publication. MacFarlane identifies a number of projects motivated both aesthetically, socially and politically, writing that:

An ecology of mind has emerged that is extraordinary in its energies and its diversity. In nurseries and universities, apiaries and allotments, transition towns and theatres, woodlands and festivals, charities and campaigns – and in photography, film, music, the visual and plastic arts and throughout literature… A 21st-century culture of nature has sprung up, born of anxiety and anger but passionate and progressive in its temperament, involving millions of people and spilling across forms, media and behaviours…

The outcomes of this culture have ranged from the uncountable enrichments of individual lives to clear examples of political and social change with regard to conservation and our relationships with “landscape”, in the fullest sense of the word…

The best of the recent writing is ethically alert, theoretically literate and wary of the seductions and corruptions of the pastoral. It is sensitive to the dark histories of landscapes and to the structures of ownership and capital that organise – though do not wholly produce – our relations with the natural world.

Night is Coming: a Threnody for the Victims of Marikana (film by Aryan Kaganof).

Aryan Kaganof’s film, ‘Night is Coming: a Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’ (above) was commissioned by the HLC network in connection with its conference at the University of Stellenbosch. The film-maker was given a completely open brief. Since then, the HLC committee (Daniel Grimley, Jo Hicks, Carina Venter and Michael Uy) has discussed Kaganof’s film at considerable length. These discussions have often been difficult and painful, and the committee was divided on how best to respond. Carina Venter and Daniel Grimley have engaged with the film in a public colloquium at the University of Oxford, with the film-maker present, and the film has been screened in a number of venues elsewhere. The majority decision of the HLC committee, however, was that the film should not be screened at Harvard because it represented an unbalanced and asymmetrical record of the event itself. Issues of violence, domination, censorship and repression were discussed very widely in the Stellenbosch meeting and were central to its analysis of music and landscape, even though the Marikana massacre was not explicitly mentioned. Carina Venter wishes to record her disagreement with the committee’s decision. Daniel Grimley welcomes the opportunity for further reflection and discussion that Kaganof’s film provokes, and is grateful for his contribution to the network’s wider debates.

Kaganof responds:

I was not commissioned by HLC to make “a balanced and symmetrical record of the event”. I was given an entirely open brief to respond as a creative film artist in any manner I deemed appropriate. The work I made did not deal in a general way with “issues of violence, domination, censorship and repression” but explicitly with the Marikana massacre which was eerily absent from a conference on landscape held in South Africa a year after the massacre took place. HLC’s decision not to screen the film at Harvard served painfully to confirm the film’s critique of the Stellenbosch event.

Call for Papers- Harvard

Hearing Landscape Critically: Music, Place, and the Spaces of Sound

Harvard University

14-16 January 2015

Project website: https://hlcharvard.wordpress.com

Everything that is resounds … The landscape resounds; facades, caricatures, halos, shadows dance across it. (Alphonso Lingis)

Call for contributions:

Landscapes are spaces of community and segregation, of inspiration, mystification, nourishment, and devastation. Though landscape has long been acknowledged as a foundational element of our historical and contemporary engagement with the world, the significance of sound and music in shaping notions and perceptions of landscape has only recently begun to receive sustained critical attention.

The third meeting of the ‘Hearing Landscape Critically’ research network will take place at Harvard University, 14-16 January 2015. The aim of this three-year project funded by the Leverhulme Trust is to transform our sense of sound in landscape, and to document, investigate, and provoke critical encounters between the social and acoustic agents involved in the formations of landscape. The network embraces an interdisciplinary methodology and brings together scholars from diverse geographical contexts and academic fields (including art history, literary studies, and cultural geography) alongside creative practitioners, prompting new ways of thinking about sound, music, space, and place.

Key research objectives for the Network—and the conference—are as follows:

1. To investigate particular privileged or hidden sites and sounds of power, politics, coercion or subversion through landscape and music;

2. To explore the different modalities of performing/performed landscapes;

3. To interrogate the role of landscape, music, and sound in shaping subjectivity, social space, and the everyday;

4. To articulate the theoretical gains and ethical imperatives of encounters between landscape, music and society.

Invited speakers:

Brandon Labelle (Bergen Academy of Art and Design)

Bruce Smith (University of Southern California)

Holly Watkins (Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester)

Kay Shelemay (Harvard University)

Nancy Guy (University of California San Diego)

All proposals should be emailed to criticallandscapes@gmail.com (size limit = 5MB) by 1 June 2014, including your name, email address, and affiliation (if applicable).

Individual papers (30 minutes + questions)—abstract of no more than 350 words.

Panel sessions—describe individual papers and overarching theme in no more than 500 words.

Alternative formats—describe your proposal (i.e., performance, round table, film discussion, or whatever it may be) in no more than 500 words, including any unusual technical requirements.

Unfortunately, funding for travel will NOT be generally available for delegates. However, there may be some funds for student travel bursaries. If you would be interested in this, please indicate so on your cover sheet.

Programme committee: Daniel Grimley (Oxford), Jonathan Hicks (KCL), Stephanus Muller (Stellenbosch), Michael Uy (Harvard), and Carina Venter (Oxford).