Sui Lum Celine Cheung

"The Corbicula fluminea"

Section MS16, Sonia Levy

Keywords: colonial studies, moving image, water

This project delves into the influence of language concerning so-called invasive species1 in the River Lea. It revolves around showcasing Corbicula fluminea, commonly known as the Asian clam, through a video accompanied by two contrasting written descriptions‚ÄĒone portraying malevolence and the other romanticising the species.

The poetically structured pair critically examines the subjectivity of written text as media while shedding light on the recently arrived species in the River, introduced via ballast water. Ballast water, used for stability in ships, inadvertently transports various organisms across oceans, impacting local ecosystems when discharged.

The two videos are strategically displayed on adjacent CRT monitors. Employing the same video for both texts highlights how exclusive reliance on writing techniques can shape perceptions and attitudes. As viewers cannot read both versions simultaneously, their understanding of the Asian clam may differ based on the version they initially choose to read.

Inspired by A. M. Kanngieser's "Sonic Colonialities: Listening, Dispossession, and the (Re)Making of Anglo-European Nature", this project explores the capacity of media to engender an objective replication of the world2. It delves into the challenges arising from the historical establishment of the nature versus human dichotomy, as examined in William Cronon's essay "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature."3

The project questions the objectivity of media and alludes to broader implications, in an increasingly globalised world. It reflects on how media portrayal of different groups contributes to shaping people's perspectives. It touches on contemporary issues like xenophobia, exploring media's influence on shaping perceptions and the ongoing conflict between society and nature.

  1. The term "invasive" is used here to describe the ecological impact of Corbicula fluminea on the local environment, acknowledging the nuanced and sometimes problematic associations with xenophobic discourses. 

  2. Kanngieser, A.M. (2023). Sonic colonialities: Listening, dispossession and the (re)making of Anglo‚ÄźEuropean nature. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 10.1111/tran.12602. 

  3. Cronon, William. (1995). The Trouble with Wilderness‚ÄĮ: Or Getting Back to the Wrong Nature. New York: Norton.