Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Amy Juang

Fishing in the Anthropocene: Images Originating from a 1966 Experiment

Fishing imagery provides a unique lens into American desires around wilderness. In this thesis, I analyze the surreal photographs that resulted from an experimental government stocking program in 1966, one of the world’s largest ecosystem manipulations: placing Pacific salmon into the Great Lakes after complete ecological collapse. These images are an attempt to communicate a techno-utopian position of man’s mastery of nature and representation, American exceptionalism, and the strength of the fisherman. In reality, the photographs are a paradox, undermining the myth of wilderness it set on perpetuating. The photographs that resulted from this fishing craze are anthropocenic in nature, echoing the nature dreams of the past and the apocalyptic forecast of the future. For my visual component, I pivot to contemporary fishing imagery online. It comes in two parts: a condensed supercut of fishing videos sourced from YouTube’s personalized algorithm for me, and a 360° shot of my own fishing experience.

Sector C

Advisors: Peter Dicherney (CIMS), Paul Farber (FNAR)