Oil Topography: Weaving the World of Oil


  • Tomas Borsa University of Oxford
  • Ruth Beer Emily Carr University of Art and Design




Taking inspiration from Pendakis and Wilson’s (2012) call to “sight, cite, and site” oil, in this piece we consider how interventions in artistic material practice can offer up complementary, and at times entirely unique, modes of engaging with the materialities of oil and petro-media. Building on conversations of the past several years, we make particular reference to Oil Topography (2014), a hand-woven jacquard tapestry created and produced by Ruth Beer.

Author Biographies

Tomas Borsa, University of Oxford

Tomas Borsa is a Ph.D. student at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, who uses experimental ethnographic methods to explore the social histories and future imaginaries of ultrafast ‘full fibre’ broadband infrastructures on Haida Gwaii. An occasional filmmaker and photographer, Tomas’ documentary and experimental media works consider the human experience of industrial expansion and have been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Raglan Street Gallery (Australia), Gulf of Georgia Cannery (Canada), and The Dark Outside (Scotland). Tomas is a co-convenor of the Oxford Digital Ethnography Group, a loose affiliation of collaborators with a shared aim of extending inter-disciplinary research on digital ecologies, broadly conceived.

Ruth Beer, Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Ruth Beer is a visual artist whose interdisciplinary research creation practice examines and envisions contested geographies and landscapes in transition. Her artworks, which include sculpture, video, photography, and tapestry, have been exhibited internationally at venues such as Nordic House (Iceland), Kimura Gallery (Alaska), and Arctic Centre (Finland). Ruth’s recent SSHRC-supported research-creation projects include Trading Routes: Grease Trails, Oil Pipelines and Shifting Ground: Mapping Energy, Geographies and Communities in the North. Ruth is Professor of Art in the Faculty of Art and Graduate Studies and the Director of ACE (Art/Culture/Ecology) Research at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.


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How to Cite

Borsa, T., & Beer, R. (2022). Oil Topography: Weaving the World of Oil. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 13(1), 37–46. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.PM.13.1.3