The Anthropocene: Looking for the Emergency Exit

Looks like a fascinating series of events in Bristol…
The Anthropocene: Looking for the Emergency Exit
In the year that sees Bristol as European Green Capital, the Digital Cultures Research Centre – UWE Bristol, is pleased to announce a series of public talks at Watershed, addressing the growing recognition of humanity’s profound impact on the earth – The Anthropocene: Looking for the Emergency Exit.
The term Anthropocene, was coined by Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000 to claim that the earth has entered a new geological era, characterised by the effects of the proliferation of a single species – us. It addresses the challenges of climate change, the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of biodiversity.
This seminar series brings together prominent researchers engaging the Anthropocene from a range of arts and humanities disciplines. The aim is to consider its key cultural, political-economic, media arts, and philosophical and ethical dimensions. The series hopes not only to look at what is recorded in the geological record of human life with a critical and reflective eye, but to encounter in our present situation ways of opening a passage toward a new era, before this one is fully realised.
All are welcome & admission is free, but please register for tickets as space is limited
Thursday October 1
No Man’s Land: A Geology of Media
Jussi Parikka
6-8pm, Watershed W3
Is there a geology of media, a geology of technology? Investigating materialities of media culture from an alternative angle, Jussi Parikka addresses the geopolitics of media with an eye on the minerals and energy that condition our technological culture. The talk weaves together issues of theory and contemporary media arts as investigations of how media and visual culture contain this fundamental dimension of materiality, of rare earths and material infrastructures of long duration, of earthly duration. The Anthropocene will be addressed through discussion of electronic waste and the residual impact of media technological chemistry.
Jussi Parikka is Professor of Technological Culture & Aesthetics at the Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.
Michelle Henning (Chair) is Associate Professor in Photography and Cultural History in the London School of Film, Media and Design, and Visiting Senior Research Fellow at DCRC.
Wednesday October 21
Photography after the Human or How to Reimagine the Anthropocene, Extinction and the ‘Eco-eco crisis’ While There’s Still Time
Joanna Zylinska
6-8pm Watershed W3
As the main topic of this talk Joanna Zylinska will draw on the existence of images after the human. In particular, those light-induced mechanical images known as photographs. The ‘after the human’ designation does not just refer to the material disappearance of the human in some kind of distant future, but also to the present imagining of this disappearance of the human world as a prominent visual trope in art and other cultural practices. Such ‘ruin porn’ has some historical antecedents: from the sublime Romantic landscapes of ruined abbeys by the likes of Giovanni Battista Piranesi, all the way through to paintings such as Rotunda by Joseph Gandy, commissioned by John Soane, the architect of the Bank of England, and depicting the aforesaid bank as a ruin even before it was built.
Yet the visualisation of ruins has gained a new inflection in the Anthropocene, a period that is said to be suffering from a dual eco-eco crisis: the current global economic crisis and the impending – and irreversible – environmental crisis. We can think here of the seductive and haunting images of Detroit, a financially bankrupt North American city with a glorious industrial and architectural past – but also of TV series imagining our demise as a species, such as History channel’s Life after People. Extending the temporal scale beyond that of human history by introducing the horizon of extinction into her discussion, will allow Zylinska to denaturalise the political and aesthetic frameworks through which we as humans understand ourselves, and assist in the visualisation of a post-neoliberal world of here and now.
The talk will end with a brief presentation of Zylinska’s own artwork – The Anthropocene: A Local History Project.
Joanna Zylinska is Professor of New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College. Author and editor of numerous books on media and culture, her recent book calling for A Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene (2014) combines writing with photographic work on the theme.
Patrick Crogan (Chair) is Associate Professor of Digital Cultures at UWE Bristol
Wednesday November 18
Digital Negentropy and the Anthropocene in the Work of Bernard Stiegler
Daniel Ross
5 – 7pm Pervasive Media Studio
Bernard Stiegler has been engaged in a long-term project to rethink the intersection of technology and humanity as an inextricable process of mutual co-invention. Within this overarching process, the unfolding history of technologies of memory has given rise to the institutions and practices of aesthetics, politics and rational thought, but each new technological epoch also produces shocks and disruptions that require social adjustment and the adoption of new technological practices.
This necessary readjustment and the new forms of knowledge it requires are, however, threatened by the rapid pace of technological change and an anti-social ideology of pure technological adaptation. In a series of recent articles and in his latest book, La Société Automatique, Stiegler has sought to reconfigure his analysis by conceiving the ‘Anthropocene epoch’ as one in which there is a nihilistic and ever-increasing production of ‘entropic’ effects. Responding to the Anthropocene is a question of the invention of new forms of knowledge, that is, of ‘negentropy’, an aesthetic, political and philosophical question that necessarily involves making a fork in the path of the so-called digital turn and the establishment of new digital practices and institutions.
Daniel Ross is currently a Prometeo researcher at Yachay Tech in Ecuador. He has frequently written about the work of Bernard Stiegler and is currently translating Stiegler’s most recent book, which will be published by Polity Press in 2016 as Automatic Society, Volume 1: The Future of Work.
Patrick Crogan (Chair) is the author of Gameplay Mode: War, Simulation and Technoculture and he works across a range of themes and elements of digital media technoculture, from games to drones.
For further information please contact:
Location details and directions for Watershed can be found at:

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