Defense Date

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts

Department

Photography & Film

First Advisor

Paul Thulin

Second Advisor

John Freyer

Third Advisor

Hope Ginsburg

Abstract

Using plants as a basis for exploring the interstices between the human and nonhuman, this thesis investigates ideas of awareness, intelligence, deep time, animism, and the fluctuating human perception of the agency of Nature. It outlines environmental art practices since the 1950s involving vegetal life. In addition, the paper provides a critical analysis of plant perception of Jakob von Uexküll’s work and theories of vital materialism and “critical plant studies” while noting recent studies in plant neurobiology. In my work, plants become active participants via their movement, seeding, and smell. This study takes the form of imitation, purposeful symbiosis, anthropomorphism, and touch and uses an interdisciplinary practice involving various experiments, video, and plant life. In suggesting a new possible understanding of plants, the work argues for a new ecological ethos in a time when global warming weighs heavily on world policy and consciousness.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

8-7-2015