Sonia Levy


(Photo credit: Still from Creatures of the Lines)

Creatures of the Lines is a film in production by the artist Sonia Levy, working in collaboration with the environmental anthropologist Heather Swanson. It explores how the desire for economic growth and linear progress has produced straightened forms in England’s watery landscapes, and asks what risks are associated with the conversion of once-curvy and braided worlds into a linearised landscape.

Drawing on their longstanding research interests and conversations exploring the risks to and in aquatic ecologies with academics from Loughborough University, the film will explore how English waterscapes have been transformed via the construction of canals. As arteries of British Empire, canals linked Indian cotton fields to domestic textile mills, facilitating vast ecological transformations from monoculture agriculture in the colonies to industrial discharges in England’s waters, soils, and airs– and thus serve as a key site for exploring often-overlooked histories of colonial capitalism and their material presences in contemporary British worlds.

Attempting to work from within muddy, submerged sites, rather than from grand narratives or “god’s-eye” viewpoints, the work begins inside canals, telling stories from within the lines. Making use of the open-ended sensibilities of ethnography and natural history, it raises questions about ecological transformations and their ties to infra/structures of global political economy.

The work has been informed by workshops with students of University of California, Santa Cruz; and NYU Gallatin, and the final edit will be informed by a workshop hosted in collaboration with Loughborough University's Institute of Advanced Studies in June 2021.


Sound recording: Jez riley French
Music: Georgia Rodgers
Cinematography: Sonia Levy


Creatures of the Lines is co-commissioned by Radar Loughborough and Aarhus University's Ecological Globalisation Research Group, with the support of the Carlsberg Foundation (Distinguished Associate Professor Fellowship CF17-0872).


Risk Related

A series of commissions exploring risk and its social, ecological and economic relations. Read more

Project Partners

Dr Heather Swanson

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Aarhus University
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Loughborough University Institute of Advanced Studies

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Professor Paul Wood

Professor of Ecohydrology
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Dr David Ryves

Reader in Environmental Change
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Dr Simone Guareschi

Post-doctoral fellow in Geography and Environment
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Dr Rachel Murray

Doctoral Prize Fellow in Literature
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Creatures of the Lines: Cut 1, A Workshop

Wed 23 June 2021

18:00pm - 19:45pm

A screening of the first cut of Sonia Levy's 'Creatures of the Lines'. Read more

The Linearization of Landscapes: Patterns of Water, Terrain, and Life

Thu 18 June 2020

14:00pm - 15:30pm

A reading group led by Sonia Levy, Heather Swanson and Rachel Murray. Read more

For the Love of Corals Screening (IAS 'Water' Theme Launch)

Wed 13 November 2019

14:00pm - 16:00pm

Screening of Sonia Levy's 'For the Love of Corals' as part of the Institute of Advanced Study's 'Water' theme launch. Read more