What does exposure mean? The capture of light? The risk of a fall? The revelations demanded by ethnographic research? This project explores exposure’s many meanings as I work with researchers and mountain folk to understand the power of photography and place, the connections between mountaineering, science and colonialism, and the politics and care implicated in the precision of repeat photography. For the past 2 years I have been working with a team of researchers at the Mountain Legacy Project (MLP) who do some remarkable things with a collection of old mountain photographs: they reclimb the mountains, repeat the images and create visual models of the contemporary and historical landscape. Building on scholarship that resituates vision and the senses within anthropology, I explore how MLP researchers learn to feel and see their way through photographs, models and the land. I contend that while their work emphasizes acts of vision, it demands a multisensory engagement with the places they visit. I further outline some of the affective dimensions of their practices, exploring the careful work that goes into exposing facts.
This research was funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship.