Recursive islandness

recursive islandness: the island as a figure of ongoing becoming

The concept of recursive islandness emerged while reframing my thesis research as a creative project mid-2021. Once recognized, it has itself become a recurring theme throughout my work, and is central in many of my works shared on this site.

What is recursive islandness? Here is an excerpt from a 2021 presentation discussing my thesis project:

This thesis project presents the metaphorical Entangled Island of ‘place + craft beer + Newfoundland’ as a figure through which to better understand the relationality of place identity, both on this (literal) island and beyond. Putting forth beer name themes as representations of connection to place and, in turn, mapping that thematic data allows us to think about the relationship between place and identity in Newfoundland in a more ‘graspable’ way: “What does that look like?” 

By engaging with traditional craft practice in reiterating these findings in —and onto — a textile form, data visualization then becomes data storytelling, imbuing even further layers of meaning and connection.
In adding this (literal) layer of meaning onto an existing (literal) patchwork — as opposed to creating something new from scratch — the textile piece itself becomes “a site of regenerative recrafting” (Loveless, 2019, p. 3), mirroring or even reiterating the patchy Anthropocenic reading of the island as a figure of generative, ongoing becoming (see, e.g., Chandler & Pugh, 2021, p. 4, p. 6).

Stepping back, the project unfolds to reveal that it is itself an island — a figure of what I am calling recursive islandness, reminiscent of a geographically recursive island (an island within an island) or, more theoretically, of Roberts and Stephens’s (2017, p. 28) infinite island (“a place constituted by infinitely larger numbers of analytical frames moving toward the infinitely minute”) or Benitez-Rojo’s (1997, p. 3) repeating island (“unfolding and bifurcating until it reaches all the seas and lands of the earth, while at the same time it inspires multidisciplinary map of unexpected designs”).

This Recursive Entangled Island, then, both as model and metaphor, pushes back against modern frameworks of reasoning, embracing and further demonstrating the depth, power, and potential of relational approaches and giving a nod to the generative, ongoing ‘becoming’ of the figure of the island – in all of its forms and readings.

Works cited above:
– Benitez-Rojo, A. (1997). The repeating island: The Caribbean and the postmodern perspective. Duke University Press.
– Chandler, D., & Pugh, J. (2021). Anthropocene Islands: There are only islands after the end of the world. Dialogues in Human Geography, Advance online publication.
– Loveless, N. (2019). How to make art at the end of the world: A manifesto for research–creation. Duke University Press.
– Roberts, B., & Stephens, M. A. (2017). Introduction. In B. Roberts & M. A. Stephens (Eds.), Archipelagic American Studies (pp. 1–56). Duke University Press.