Car-tographies: a critical visual analysis of three Melbourne autoscapes

Perry, A 2013, Car-tographies: a critical visual analysis of three Melbourne autoscapes, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Communication Studies, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Car-tographies: a critical visual analysis of three Melbourne autoscapes
Author(s) Perry, A
Year 2013
Abstract This research project documents and critically reflects upon the ‘autoscapes’ of three major road corridors, Springvale Road, the Metropolitan and Western Ring Road and the EastLink Tollway, spanning suburban and outer suburban Melbourne. It examines site-specific temporalities, spatialities and physical characteristics associated with the landscapes of these motorways when encountered through a visually oriented mode of analysis.

The research employs a creative practice-based methodology, the outcomes of which are expressed in a collection of specifically image-based artefacts, including a digital poster series, a digital photography book and a non-narrative documentary film. These artefacts incorporate a range of traditional and hybrid visual approaches (graphic, photographic and videographic), which depict and interrogate their subject, the topographies and environmental aesthetics of three exemplary Melbourne roads, at various speeds and from different mobile and static perspectives. Individually and collectively, the three artefacts produced by the research investigation work to document moments of complexity, speed and duration associated with travelling by car along an original and embodied major suburban arterial; reveal the hidden, uncelebrated and hybrid terrain of a road corridor embedded within the ‘edgelands’ of Melbourne’s urban fringe; and depict the experience of travel through a featureless and flattened topography, within a temporally endless and spatially antiseptic, semi-privatised motorway.

The accompanying exegesis contextualises these visual expressions of those Melbourne autoscapes through its account of relevant critical approaches to automobility and landscapes of the car, both academic and/or artistic, which have analysed the processes by which contemporary road networks have become integral components of early twenty-first century suburbanity. The fragmented and repetitious articulations of time, space and landscape, captured and examined here through a critical visual approach, work to extend and contribute new understandings of automobility beyond key existing social and cultural analyses of the topic.

The research finds that automobility dynamically frames perceptions and experiences of the suburban and outer suburban landscape of contemporary Melbourne. The affordances of creative visual-based methods of inquiry, within a sociological and historically infused research project, help to render moments of insight and detail in relation to the simultaneous specificity and ‘anywhere-ness’ of Melbourne automotive environments.

Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Communication Studies
Keyword(s) automobility
visual media
car culture
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Created: Wed, 10 Sep 2014, 09:08:59 EST by Denise Paciocco
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