Negative Capability: Imaging and Imagining Fundamental Science Through Productive Doubt

Crisp, Fiona (2015) Negative Capability: Imaging and Imagining Fundamental Science Through Productive Doubt. GeoHumanities, 1 (1). pp. 188-197. ISSN 2373-566X

CRISP_GeoHumanties_FINAL_SUBMISSION.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (1MB) | Preview
Official URL:


In 1817, English poet John Keats proposed the idea of negative capability as a desirable state of creativity that embraced uncertainty and doubt. Fiona Crisp, an artist and academic, has coopted Keats’s phrase for an ongoing, practice-based research project that uses nondocumentary photography and film to interrogate extremes of visual and imaginative representation in fundamental science. Evolved through contact with a number of organizations, the project, Negative Capability, places artistic production in the spaces where experimental and theoretical science is performed, foregrounding the “site” or laboratory as a social, cultural, and political space where meaning is shaped and constructed rather than received or observed. Historically, Western culture has measured space and time through the body, but the twin extremes of macro- and microscale associated with fundamental physics and astronomy often operate beyond a lay public’s perceptual and cognitive grasp, when, for example, we attempt to approach the philosophical conundrum of dark matter or the possibility of assimilating eleven dimensions. Here Crisp proposes the use of visual, photographic means to approach that which is literally or conceptually imperceptible via the suspension of a desire for empirical knowledge to engender a productive state of unknowing or productive doubt. These ideas are explored in relation to an earlier, extended body of work, Subterrania (Crisp 2009–2010), that featured images taken in various underground locations where many of the conventional coordinates of photography (light, movement, geographic and cultural location) were either absent or suspended; through these works, Crisp evolves the idea of “impossible space” as a phenomenological entity and advocates the production of knowledge through looking.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: doubt, imperceptibility, photography
Subjects: W100 Fine Art
W600 Cinematics and Photography
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2015 15:32
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 05:50

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics