Geophysics is a tool that is pushing forward archaeological understandings of the past both on land and at sea. Although functioning through mathematical algorithms, electrical signals, computer software and data collection, it is also a creative process. It is a form of data rich with possibilities: it offers up perspectives on time in the landscape and the interweaving threads of human actions. Like photography, geophysical images can reflect the moment of collection, the unexpected, the ephemeral. For those who understand the language of geophysics, the work is a process of coaxing out stories; of experimenting with possibilities and meaning.
An engagement with geophysical data and images can feed the archaeological imagination. An understanding can allow an exploration of time, movement, people, change and landscape, all without breaking the surface. The archaeological imagination allows a storying of landscape that plunges back and forth between surface traces and buried finds and stratigraphies. This can spark further creative practices and processes to reconstruct past landscapes and people. The images generated by geophysical processes can also inspire beyond archaeology, engaging with artistic fascinations with landscape. What these artistic explorations show is how the process of drawing on or from geophysics is yet another way of cogitating what it might mean, of digesting these outputs from the sub-surface realm.
What this exploration of geophysics reveals is that there is no clear-cut distinction between 'art' and 'science', in archaeology or beyond. Instead, it is a matter of working creatively with the rich accumulation of knowledge to 'speculate imaginatively' in our understanding of the earth and ourselves.
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