Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Foregrounding ecosystems: thinking with the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison.

Fremantle, Christopher; Anne, Douglas

Authors

Douglas Anne



Abstract

The approach we take to understanding, whether framed as 'measured, objective and in control' or 'entangled and adapting', is key to the health of the life web and ourselves. The problems associated with the measured, objective and in control version of this, have been identified by artists, philosophers and thinkers including Goethe, Steiner, Klee and Bateson over a long period and came to much wider recognition from the 1970s, with for example the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth. Artists create ways of imagining the world that inspire us to feel as well as think. Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, known as 'the Harrisons', do so through an ecological approach, as evidenced in their works, including The Serpentine Lattice on which this essay draws in particular. Grounded in literary movements such as ethnopoetics and pictorial devices including figure-ground reversal, the Harrisons present us with a fundamentally different way of knowing the world. But where the environmental humanities have tended to reject outright ways of knowing associated with positivism, let alone financialisation of ecosystems, we find quantitative and financial proposals in the works of the Harrisons shaped to provoke us to redirect human institutions to address the health of the life web first and foremost.

Citation

FREMANTLE, C. and DOUGLAS, A. [2021]. Foregrounding ecosystems: thinking with the work of Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison. In Imaginative ecologies: humanities for sustainable societies. Netherlands: Brill [online], (accepted).

Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2021
Deposit Date Apr 17, 2021
Publisher Brill Academic Publishers
Series Title Nature, literature and culture
Series ISSN 1572-4344
Book Title Imaginative ecologies: humanities for sustainable societies
Keywords Art; Ecology; Epistemologies of the environment; Environmental economics
Public URL https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/1317517
Related Public URLs https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/238230
https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/673907
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2769
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/1697
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2770
https://rgu-repository.worktribe.com/output/696066
http://hdl.handle.net/10059/2128