Perception and Deception: The Salmon Story.

Cognizant of the way in which visual and linguistic materials construct non-human animals as particular types of subjects/non-subjects, this project seeks to understand the character and origins of these representations, with particular interest in the language used to represent British Columbia's fish populations and aquatic ecosystems.

Perception and Deception specifically addresses the crisis in British Columbia's salmon populations, a salient nexus of social value, scientific inquiry, competing industries, and cultural mythologies. Zeigler’s goal is to articulate through the production of artworks, how the representation of Pacific salmon within divergent cultural contexts frames, as well as conceals, what is at stake within current environmental discourse--namely, our collective future. This analysis will facilitate critical reflection on how language (both visual and textual) may support the shift to a socially just and ecologically sustainable paradigm, or to an expansionist path of the increased consumption of natural resources, disruption of climate systems, and over extension of the earth’s carrying capacity.

Over the past two years in Phase I of this project (2014-16), Zeigler has been working with a research assistant, Krista Baillie, on the review and analysis of written depictions of salmon generated by mass media, the scientific community, tourism, government, private industry, and First Nations and environmental advocacy groups. Pertinent sections of texts have been entered into NVivo, a qualitative data analysis program, to enable easy retrieval and examination of this material. Concurrently, visual images have been gathered and reviewed for use in Phrase II of this endeavour, beginning in the fall of 2016.

Phase II will engage critical and speculative methodologies in the translation of this research into a material art installation conceived to offer phenomenological or affective engagement with this topic. The art installation forming the core of this project will be in a modular-print format (comprised of etchings, screen and digital prints), accompanied by video, and auditory and sculptural components. Exhibitions, forums, pedagogical initiatives, and conference papers are all foreseen as part of this overall endeavour, which will first be shown in the fall of 2018 to coincide with the dominant year in the four-cycle migration of the Adams River sockeye run.

Images and additional information will be posted as completed in 2017 and 2018.