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Technologies of encounter : exhibition-making and the 18th century South Pacific

Between 1768 and 1780 Captain James Cook led three epic voyages from Britain into the Pacific Ocean, where he and his fellow explorers- artists, naturalists, philosophers and sailors, were to encounter societies and cultures of extraordinary diversity. These 18th Century South Pacific encounters were rich with performance, trade and exchange; but they would lead to the dramatic and violent transformation of the region through colonisation, settlement, exploitation and disease. Since those initial encounters, museums in Britain have become home to the images and artefacts produced and collected in the South Pacific; and they are now primary sites for the representation of the original voyages and their legacies. This representation most often takes the form of exhibitions and displays that in turn choreograph and produce new encounters with the past, in the present. Drawing on Alfred Gell's term 'technologies of enchantment' my practice reconceives the structures of exhibitions as 'technologies of encounter': exploring how they might be reconfigured to produce new kinds of encounter. Through reflexive practice I critically engage with museums as sites of encounters, whilst re-imagining the exhibition as a creative form. The research submission takes the form of an exhibition: an archive of materials from the practice, interwoven with a reflective dialogue in text. The thesis progresses through a series of exhibition encounters, each of which explores a different approach to technologies of encounter, from surrealist collage (Cannibal Dog Museum) and critical reflexivity (The Hidden Hand), to a conversational mode (Modernity's Candle and the Ways of the Pathless Deep).
Date January 2018
CreatorsBaker, Daniel Alexander
PublisherUniversity of the Arts London
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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