Emma Arnold (PhD) is an artist and human geographer whose work touches on cultural and urban geography, geohumanities, and the arts. She uses photography and artistic/aesthetic methods to explore a range of topics from graffiti and street art to environmental activism in the city. She is passionate about exploring and building theory, experimenting with methods, and art in all its diverse forms.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND ARTISTIC METHODS
Playful with methods, Emma Arnold brings creativity and art into her work frequently. Some of her experiments with methods developed during her doctoral research are discussed in her paper ‘Aesthetic practices of psychogeography and photography’ published in the journal Geography Compass. This work and her use of methods were the subject of a short documentary made by Snöball Film. She is presently developing new writings on artistic approaches to urban photography. Her paper ‘Photography, composition, and the ephemeral city’ is accepted for publication in the Royal Geographical Society journal Area and is the first in her series on the merits of artistic photography in conducting critical urban research.
Her postdoctoral research project takes the form of a creative laboratory LAX LAB. Through the laboratory, she has been experimenting with diverse creative methodologies, including: artistic activism, creative action research, visual urban ethnography, and an artistic performance travelling from Oslo to London by train. She is part of an artistic activist collective in Oslo.
GRAFFITI AND STREET ART
Emma’s doctoral project explored the aesthetic impacts of zero tolerance policy against graffiti and street art in Oslo. Findings from this study are discussed in her paper ‘Aesthetics of zero tolerance’ which was published in the journal CITY.
Emma has been invited to write book reviews for two significant edited collections on graffiti and street art. You can read her review of Graffiti and Street Art: Reading, Writing and Representing the City (edited by Konstantinos Avramidis and Myrto Tsilimpounidi) in the journal Urban Studies. Her review of The Routledge Handbook of Graffiti and Street Art (edited by Jeffrey Ian Ross) was published in the Journal of Urban Design.
ART AND CLIMATE ACTIVISM
Emma’s present research is concerned with the artistic dimensions of climate activism and connections between art and climate change. She has carried out a visual urban ethnography of climate activism in Oslo, which has included working as a photographer with Extinction Rebellion Norway. This photographic activist research with Extinction Rebellion was recently profiled by Forskning.no.
CLIMATE FICTION BOOK CLUB
Emma Arnold leads an international, virtual climate fiction book club. Begun during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the book club originated as a way to stay connected while in isolation. The objective of the book club is to inspire different types of conversations around climate change. More information is available on the book club website. The book club was featured in an article on climate fiction by Anna Colivicchi for euronews.
Emma Arnold is a practising artist and works primarily as a painter, preferring water-based media on paper and canvas. She is especially fond of painting psychedelic space fish and dramatic Norwegian landscapes. She also experiments with textile arts, including embroidery and weaving. Emma was a street artist of little notoriety in Montréal. Her experiences as a street artist inform her academic research. She approaches the topics of graffiti and street art and urban activism with embodied and tacit knowledge of what it means and feels like to transgress in the city.