Recent years have seen increased collaboration between the sciences and arts, with conferences, galleries and residencies devoted to exploiting the mutual benefits that can arise from mingling the two spheres (e.g.: http://www.ontheendlesshere.com/#!regardingdynamicprocesses/c1p5n). Critical commentaries have focused on the tensions between art’s roles in illustrating, communicating, and interrogating sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, climate change and geology. But where is geomorphology?
Geomorphology has a very visual subject matter that has long offered aesthetic inspiration for artists (e.g. painters, sculptors, batique makers, poets and even musicians) but these artistic activities are rarely truly collaborative, with the return benefits to geomorphology commonly being unclear. Despite rapid development of science-art collaborations, therefore, the discipline is effectively invisible, limiting its promotion as an active, relevant science among a wider public.
The Visualising Geomorphology Working Group’s (WG) remit will be to promote the science of geomorphology through engagement with the arts (broadly defined), and therefore raise the profile of the BSG.
Specific, interrelated questions include historical, contemporary and forward-looking aspects of geomorphology-art relations:
1) where has art already drawn aesthetic inspiration from geomorphology and what benefits have accrued to geomorphology?;
2) can we enhance the artistic decisions and techniques already embedded in geomorphological publishing practices, including sketching, photography, ‘cartoons’ (see Fig. 1), videos or graphic design?;
3) where can traditional or new (perhaps technology-driven) artistic techniques be most profitably employed on geomorphological subject matter to engage non-specialists? Examples might include:
i) animations, videos and podcasts to illustrate landscape change scenarios;
ii) 3D printing to enhance understanding of landforms;
iii) traditional sculptures or other art forms to communicate erosional and depositional processes in a putative Anthropocene (Fig. 2);
4) can we identify and target funding opportunities to pursue specific art-geomorphology collaborations (e.g. AHRC, Leverhulme Trust)?
The initial list of invited WG members is as follows:
Stephen Tooth, Heather Viles, Varyl Thorndycraft, Hywel Griffiths, Julian Ruddock, Simon Dixon, Brian Whalley, Jessica Lloyd-Jones, Ant Dickson, Harriet Hawkins, Simon Mudd, Henry Lamb, Anna Falcini.
The first meeting of the WG will be take place at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Friday 19th June, 2015, 11 am-3 pm.
The second meeting of the WG will be take place at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, Monday 6th June, 2016, 11 am-3 pm.
Interested BSG members are welcome to attend at their own cost. Please email Stephen Tooth (email@example.com) or Heather Viles (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information.
Stephen Tooth maintains a blog that reports on aspects of this working group, for example the BSG-sponsored 'Strata' event that took place in January 2016: