Rafico Ruiz Talk, "Iceberg Alley: Grey Resources and the Media of Geophysical Destiny"


Monday, February 6, 2017


4:00 pm


Sankey Room
Over the past two decades, icebergs in Iceberg Alley, an area that extends from the glaciers of the western coast of Greenland to Baffin Island and south past the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, have progressively emerged as a sought after commodity used in the production of vodka, beer, and luxury-branded waters. By drawing on historical research and fieldwork across communities in Iceberg Alley, this talk will examine how icebergs are emerging as "grey resources": equally implicated in the ambiguous ethical shadow of anthropogenic climate change through glacial melt, as well as important secondary resources for the safe operation of oil and gas installations on the North Atlantic. The cultural theorist Jody Berland remarked in her book North of Empire that Canada's vast topography and small population are said to provide a geophysical destiny that "naturally" compels scientists to map, survey, represent, and communicate across the mountains, the tundra, or the ice fields? This talk will track how icebergs are acting as prisms through which to apprehend and expand the media of this relationship to the geophysical environment, from early forms of radar detection to contemporary practices of tourist photography. As such, it will approach icebergs as environmental phenomena that are largely about light. In these early days of the 21st century, I will suggest that icebergs might be most productively and critically seen through an aesthetics of grey light variability that can apprehend how they are emerging as a new resource horizon across Iceberg Alley.