Sunday, August 23, 2009

The phenomenology of space landscapes

Minitrack pylons at Island Lagoon (author's image)
There are happy occasions when the rigours of teaching become worthwhile. This morning I am reading drafts of an honours thesis by my student Claire, who is working on a phenomenological analysis of the Twenty Mile Mission near Weipa in northern Queensland (in collaboration with my fellow archaeology blogger Mick Morrison). Her discussion of Christopher Tilley's application of phenomenology to Neolithic/Mesolithic monumental landscapes is particularly good.

So in the back of my brain I was thinking about the Island Lagoon tracking station near Woomera, and a photo I took at my last visit, of an array on concrete columns which look like building stumps. In terms of theses columns becoming part of the archaeological record, I likened them to Stonehenge or Avebury ....

And, since I am also very much thinking about the kinds of research questions that could be answered by survey or excavation of a tracking station (intending to do this at Orroral Valley in the ACT), perhaps in terms of the interaction of everyday life and high technology, and the social experience of high technology, it occurred to me that a phenomenology of space landscapes might be the way to connect these elements ....

Space landscapes may also be high security landscapes, so not unlike missions/plantations/asylums/prisons etc in terms of surveillance, boundaries between the inside and outside, domination and resistance etc etc. But individuals would be constructed very differently within the space landscape in terms of their agency.

These are vague thoughts so far.

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