University of Surrey

Test tubes in the lab Research in the ATI Dance Research

Gothic Energy: the iconology of energy in the documentary archive

Hughes, HA (2015) Gothic Energy: the iconology of energy in the documentary archive In: Green Knowledge: The Biennial Conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment UK and Ireland (ASLE-UKI), 2015-09-02 - 2015-09-04, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, UK.

Full text not available from this repository.


The history of documentary abounds with images of energy production and consumption. Non-fiction formats have contributed considerably to framing the debates about the global development of the coal, oil, and gas industries, nuclear energy, hydroelectricity, biofuels, wind energy, and solar power. In the course of these efforts at representation and argument an iconography of energy production and consumption has accumulated which, with time, has become a great depository of images of spent energy, reviewing, recalling and reviving the projects and associations that are now past. This paper comes out of a broader project “Gothic Energy” exploring the documentary archive as the embodiment of spent energy. The kinetic energy of the moving image in the present reanimates the world around energy production and consumption including the conceptualisation of energy itself – the source of warmth, heat, light, and movement - at the time the film was made. Part of the function of documentaries on energy has been the reconnection of energy to its sources once it became more abstract in the domestic sphere through the introduction of electricity into the home. This reconnection is now part of a history of ruins, preserved architecture, scarred landscapes. The paper will hence focus on the accumulation of the ghosts of energy, focussing particularly on the introduction of electricity and its role in the changing architecture and infrastructure of the home, exploring the how the representation of clean and invisible energy sources for the population connected with the corporate desire to celebrate the achievement of the extraction of energy from the earth’s resources, reappearing in the documentary film archive as history.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages
Authors :
Date : 2 September 2015
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:34
Last Modified : 07 Mar 2019 11:18

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

Information about this web site

© The University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, United Kingdom.
+44 (0)1483 300800