British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Earth in Vision

Earth in Vision is an AHRC funded project based in the Open University Geography Department, and runs from October 2013-September 2016. Joe Smith, Kim Hammond and George Revill from The Open University provide a glimpse of the big picture.

About the authors:

RevillDr George Revill is Senior Lecturer in Geography at The Open University. His publications include: Revill, G. (2012) Railway (Reaktion); Gold, J.R. and Revill, G. (2004) Representing the Environment (Routledge); Pepper, D.M., Revill, G. and Webster, F. (eds) (2002) Environmentalism: Critical Concepts (volumes I – V) (Routledge); Gold, J.R. and Revill, G. eds. (2000) Landscapes of Defence (Prentice Hall.); Revill, G. and Wrigley, R. eds. (1999) Pathologies of Travel (Rudopi Press/Welcome Institute); Leyshon, A., Matless, D. and Revill, G. eds. (1998) The Place of Music (Guilford/Routledge)

SmithDr Joe Smith is Senior Lecturer in Environment at The Open University. Recent publications include: Tyszczuk R., Smith J., and Clark N., and Butcher M., (2012) ATLAS of Interdependence: Architecture, Geography and Change in an Interdependent World (Black Dog Publications); Butler, Robert, Eleanor Margolies, Joe Smith, Renata Tyszczuk, (2011) Culture and Climate Change: Recordings (Shed) ; Simms A., and Smith, J. (eds) (2009) Disfruta la Vida sin Cargarte el Planeta (los libros del lince); Peake, S. and Smith, J. (2009) Climate Change: From science to sustainability (Oxford University Press); Smith, J., Brandon M. and Kurtz, M. (2009) Arctic Approach: Journeys Through A Changing World part 2 (The Open University); Blackmore R., King M., Roy R. and Smith, J. (2009) Setting Out From Home: Journeys Through A Changing World part 1 (The Open University); Simms A. and Smith J. (eds.) (2008) Do Good Lives Have to Cost the Earth? (Constable and Robinson); Smith J. (2008) Vihreät (Otava); Smith J. (2007) In cosa credono gli Ecologisti? (Avallardi); Smith J. (2006) What Do Greens Believe (Granta); Smith J. (ed.) (2000) The Daily Globe: Environmental Change, the Public and the Media (Earthscan).

Dr Kim Hammond is Research Associate at The Open University.
Tel: 01908 274066


Path finding in the BBC Archives of Environmental Programmes
If you can tell a good story, you can change the world. The release of digital broadcast archives (DBAs) opens up the potential for new forms of story telling, and an expanded body of storytellers. But there are many unresolved questions about who gets access to and permission to use such archives. The new opportunities will see the creation of tools that permit richer use of media online and that facilitate the reusing and re-versioning of DBAs. This might result in new amateur histories and inspiring opportunities for learning and teaching. Just as the combination of digital and phone cameras and social media have allowed billions to share their work as photographers, so too open access to DBAs, associated tools and online broadcasting sites mean that we can all be broadcasters now.

Global Environmental Change and Broadcast Archives
These releases and tool developments will have consequences for any field of contemporary history, but are of particular significance for the environmental field. Earth in Vision is a path-finding project exploring the potential and significance of DBAs and associated tools through the case study of environment related broadcasts drawn from over five decades of BBC archives. Framings of environmental change issues have typically been narrow and static, and have reinforced a policy field around these issues that is often unable to address the complexity and uncertainty inherent in these long-term issues. Archive and web developments could combine to allow for more imaginative future cultural responses to issues of environmental change. However without self-critical and open consideration of the ‘digital ideologies’ embedded in the tools and practices that mediating institutions develop for users’ work with these enormous bodies of cultural content, there is a danger that the narrow and frequently unproductive repertoire of environmental framings that is currently dominant will become further reinforced. This project responds directly to this urgent challenge.

Background: Exploring the BBC Broadcast Archives
Year, and a key date in the emergence of a global environmental imagination. It is informed by a pilot study, which selected, annotated and cleared limited use rights for around 100 programmes; 50 hours of programming organised across 7 themes (see Table 1) in which we wanted a mix of: film and radio; dates (1960-2009); age of viewer (some children’s programmes); issues; popular TV/radio (i.e. not all Radio 4/ BBC 2) and style of programme (e.g. documentary/news/drama/reality TV).

Table 1: Earth in Vision Selection of BBC Broadcast Archive of Environment Programmes By theme, media and decade

Table 1: Earth in Vision Selection of BBC Broadcast Archive of Environment Programmes By theme, media and decade

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