Place as Potential: queer futurity in the recorded landscape


  • Hali Santamas University of Huddersfield


When thinking about the natural environment in the Anthropocene it can be hard to see beyond the present as we constantly try to defend that which remains. Some days it is hard to feel anything but despair. Informed by my experience of being queer in a straight society, I believe that a psychedelic audiovisual art practice derived from soundscape composition and shaped by queerness can offer a glimpse into a concrete utopian future and beyond a seemingly inevitable climate collapse. 

Beginning with an analysis of the sonic art of Hildegard Westerkamp and Phil Elverum I will explore two existing approaches to the representation of place through sound. Using examples from my creative practice I will demonstrate how abstraction, contradiction, and failure can come together to create a distinct affective, psychedelic future-facing experience, rooted in lived reality. I will show how these techniques can be deployed to transform field recordings and photographs of space into atmospheric evocations of a future place.

These transcendent spaces have the potential to form a part of a wider cultural and political move towards meaningful action on climate change that is more than conservation; action that moves us towards the concrete utopia of a sustainable future.