The Alchemy of a Corpus of Underwater Images

Locating Carysfort to Reconcile our Human Relationship with a Coral Reef

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Wayne State University, USA djames@govst.edu
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Abstract

Through an ecocinema lens, an unconventional corpus of photographs of Carysfort Reef, one of seven iconic coral reefs along the Florida Reef Tract, represents something of an extreme time-lapse series. In the absence of a cohesive underwater documentary record at the time when the Florida Reef Tract is undergoing the most extensive reef restoration in the world, speculation allows us to search for patterns in damaged places with incomplete information and practice a form of multispecies storytelling of our encounters. Taken in 1966, 2003, 2014, and 2019, these images are evidence of cultural moments in our changing relationship with this reef in the context of anthropocentrism, the emergence of an alternative environment spectatorship of awareness, and a baseline for localized social change.

Contributor Notes

Deborah James holds a Ph.D. in Communication from Wayne State University with a focus on cross-platform documentary, human rights, and women's production practices. She earned her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School for Social Research with a focus on digitally mediated personal narratives and social media. From satellites to subaquatic cameras, her work examines the cultural production of coral to understand how documentary media reveal the ways in which humans inhabit, interact with, and interpret corals and reefs. Her research is published in Feminist Media Studies, Journal of Communication, Media+Environment, and Studies in Documentary Film. E-mail: djames@govst.edu

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