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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.
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).
Dr Heather Swanson
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Aarhus University
Loughborough University Institute of Advanced Studies
Professor Paul Wood
Professor of Ecohydrology
Dr David Ryves
Reader in Environmental Change
Dr Simone Guareschi
Post-doctoral fellow in Geography and Environment
Dr Rachel Murray
Doctoral Prize Fellow in Literature
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