CO2 Interiors

Authors

  • Eduardo Kairuz Monash University
  • Sam Spurr University of Newcastle

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.37113/ij.v18i01.429

Abstract

Are there any ulterior narratives that could be mined through a close examination and interpretation of the coal mine interior spaces? CO2 Interiors is a visual essay that addresses this question. And to do so, it unpacks a meticulously curated group of archival images that expose the covert narratives of colonialism and slow violence embedded in coal mining’s (extra)ordinary interiors. This creative exercise entails integrating text into images that include a 19th Century etching of young children pushing coal-filled carriages through steep mine tunnels; and a still from an animated film produced in the 1950s by the National Coal Board Film Unit in Britain. There is an image of human tissue affected by Black Lung Disease; and a photograph of a former Australian Prime Minister enacting the mythology of the alpha male explorer, plunging into the unknown and forbidden depths of the planet. Collectively, these image/text hybrids posit an experimental narrative—an assemblage—that starkly contrasts with contemporary depictions by the mining industry, focused on the technical and quantitative aspects of the activity or greenwashing its multiscalar and devastating effects. This project engages multiple forms of visual representation (historical, spatial, political, and ideological) that have conjured a mythology of coal mining still present today. In doing so, certain refrains echo and multiply, persisting across time frames and political borders to produce a taxonomy of subterranean effects. Integrating text and images, our devices yield a performative reading that seeks to raise awareness and produce affect. As such, CO2 Interiors amplifies our understanding of coal mining beyond its economic and environmental repercussions and well into its social, political, and cultural implications—especially the spatial ones. While the 2019 Australian Federal Election results attest to the embedded mythology of coal mining that is still impossible to restrain, CO2 Interiors dismantles and reassembles it, recasting the false narrative of progress, equity, and solidarity that has been projected from within the coal mine interior space. This curated assemblage of coal stories accumulates as evidence to be critically analysed in order to truly achieve a sustainable post-carbon future.

Author Biography

Sam Spurr, University of Newcastle

Dr Sam Spurr is Associate Professor and Head of Discipline/Architecture at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

References

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Published

31-08-2021

How to Cite

Kairuz, Eduardo, and Sam Spurr. 2021. “CO2 Interiors”. Idea Journal 18 (01):87-112. https://doi.org/10.37113/ij.v18i01.429.