The Exchanged Portrait and the Lethal Picture: Visualization Techniques and Native Knowledge in Samuel Hearne's Sketches from His Trek to the Arctic Ocean and John Webber's Record of the Northern Pacific
Published accounts of the British circumnavigations from the 1770-80s effect the passage from complex knowledge inscribed in logbooks, astronomical and longitude calculations, charts, and natural history drawings to a new type of illustrated travelogue that associated the art of writing with techniques of visualizing the unknown. This model of maritime exploration and publication remained dominant for at least a century, obscuring other exploratory practices that will be investigated comparatively in this essay. I will contrast the uses of visual media in Samuel Hearne's trek through the plains of Canada (1769-72) with the artistic production developed by John Webber during James Cook's last voyage to the Pacific Ocean (1776-80). In comparing engravings from the two accounts, I will examine the ways in which different forms of expeditions and their specific visualizing techniques affect power relations during encounters as well as the subsequent production of knowledge. The different uses and appropriations of inscription techniques played a decisive role in the relationship established with the natives who were encountered by scientific maritime expeditions and by individual (or small team) explorations by ground.
"The Exchanged Portrait and the Lethal Picture: Visualization Techniques and Native Knowledge in Samuel Hearne's Sketches from His Trek to the Arctic Ocean and John Webber's Record of the Northern Pacific,"
4, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol23/iss4/4
Philippe Despoix is a professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and a member of the Centre Canadien d'études allemandes et européennes at the Université de Montréal. His published works include Le monde mesuré: Dispositifs de l'exploration à l'âge des Lumières (2005).