Abstracts due: November 11, 2013
Dates: April 10-12, 2014
Location: London, Royal College of Art
Vast and fluid, the oceanic spaces of empire in the 19th century inspired an imaginative and multifaceted aesthetic discourse that intersected with colonial and scientific expansion. From the seashore, which emerged as a site of leisure, liminality and transgression, to the seabed, which was perceived as a perilous but alluring frontier, marine environments captivated contemporary practitioners and audiences alike on a local and global scale.
This session presents a new perspective on the art and history of empire as manifested through maritime traditions. Whereas, the oceanic imperium has been viewed in terms of its formal presence and official exchanges across the globe – often with regards to naval power, exploration and navigation – this session will take a closer look at more informal imperial ocean networks. Changing conceptions of the marine world were shaped by increased immigration and maritime trade, steam travel, the fluid circulation of media and technology, the diversification of science, the popularisation of rational entertainment, the rise of spectacular exhibitionary culture, and a gender system in flux.