Collision: Voices of Water

Evental Aesthetics 1 (9):55-67 (2020)

This Collision discusses the cyanotypes produced by photographer Meghann Riepenhoff, in particular those in the Littoral Drift project; these cyanotypes are direct positive prints produced from the action of sea water washing over photo-sensitive paper placed at shorelines in the United States. I discuss these images and the cyanotype process Riepenhoff uses to produce these. I then discuss philosopher Fred Evans's concept of "voice" and its contemporary extension to nonhuman others. Arguing that an intermediate aesthetic intervention would assist Evans's affordance of voice to nonhuman others, I position Riepenhoff as a facilitator of the sounding of wind, water, salt, sand, and chemicals expressed in the cyanotype process. I conclude by linking the Littoral Drift series and Riepenhoff's prospective position of facilitator to recent aesthetic and ontological meditations on the Anthropocene, that epoch of geologic time in which human activity is the primary shaping force on the earth; I situate Riepenhoff's work in conversation with insights from Joanna Zylinska's account of nonhuman photography and Jane Bennett's vital materialism.
Keywords Aesthetics  Contemporary Continental Philosophy  New Materialism  Photography  Cyanotype Photography
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