Geomediations

Coordinators

Patricia Pisters & Adam Nocek (Laboratory for Critical Technics, Arizona State University)

Participants

Lonnie van Brummelen, Filippo Bertoni, Patricia Pisters, Jon Beller, Jussi Parrika, Femke Herregraven, Erin Espelie, Conny Groenewegen, Pieter Paul Pothoven, Adam Nocek and others.

Description of the Research Group

This group investigates how “geomediation” is a useful framework for examining, critiquing, and experimenting with media. Leveraging the recent tendency in ecological media scholarship to situate media  in terms of geological materials and processes, this group examines the various and complex ways in which media are tied to flows of planetary matter and geopolitical logics. For this reason, this group investigate a wide range of media devices, practices, and logics in order to give full expression to the specific material processes  (chemical, biological, atmospheric, semiotic, etc.) that our screens and media are embedded within, and to the geopolitical wreckage and ecological devastation that they often make possible. The group aims to express the material, aesthetic, political, and economic dimensions of cinema and media framed in terms of geological scales of space and time. With the discourse of the “immateriality” of media thankfully fading and it becoming clearer that media have a materiality (geophysical, infrastructural, etc.) that significantly impacts life on Earth, there is an urgent need to situate media and mediation in terms of its earthly materials and practices.

Broadly, the groups concerns stem from two interrelated and mutually informing research trajectories. The first trajectory seeks to situate media objects and digital culture in terms of the materiality of the geological processes, the vast timescales of the Earth, and the devastating effects that our production and consumption of these media have had on living and non-living systems on Earth. The group wishes to forge new research trajectories, methods for artistic experimentation, and modes of activism. For example, how might a geophysical understanding of media make possible a “metallurgical cinema”? Or how might a geology of media align itself with the equally important insight that moving image media is money? Alternatively, might we conceive of new forms of socially engaged design to intervene in the devastation caused by e-waste.

The other research trajectory that informs the network addresses the need for a broad understanding of what constitutes mediation in the Anthropocene. Drawing on media theorists who suggest that media studies is often too narrowly focused on media objects instead of broader modes of mediation, we’re interested in how the Earth mediates human life in such a way that no future life will ever again have the privilege of ignoring. There will never again be a time when humans don’t have to grapple with the effects of fossil fuels, floods, droughts, wild fires, plastics, pesticides, and so on; but at the same time, there is no answer as to how to go about thinking, imagining, and acting when ‘facing Gaia’ as Latour calls it. There is a form of earthly communication, or mediation, that seems to cut off all further communication. Is this not the experience of mediation we have in the era of the Anthropocene? This situation invites deep reflection on the concrete practices of planetary mediation. We might also think about how to go about designing interventions within this milieu when there are no ready-made answers. How might architects, media artists, fashion designers, and other practitioners respond to the meditation our era makes matter?

Results so far

An international expert meeting symposium and public event at Mediamatic (2017) https://sites.google.com/view/geomediations/meetings; several publications of individual members; panel presentation at international conference SCMS

Envisaged results

This group brings together a wide ensemble of voices from across academic and non-academic specialties to engage the urgency of Global Earth matters in a variety of contexts: academic presentation, artistic experimentation, curated exhibitions, socially engaged design practice, and publication. The aim is to do grant application for building a long term international research network to critically, creatively engage in ‘global earth matters’ on the level of aesthetics, ethics and politics.

Work plan and time schedule

Between 2018 – 2022 the group will organize knowledge cafés, research meetings, symposia, and exhibitions in collaboration between sciences, humanities and societal partners.  If you want to join please contact Patricia Pisters at p.pisters@uva.nl

Societal relevance

The urgency of climate changes, pollution and waste, and the exhaustion of material sources, combined with the impact of globalization of digital media culture in its broadest sense, demand for an interdisciplinary approach between the sciences, humanities and arts. Scientific and analytic knowledge needs to be shared and enter in dialogue in the wider public domain to find new ways of engaging in these urgent questions.

This group is also connected to the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS), Amsterdam Centre for Globalization Studies (ACGS), Centre for Material Culture (Leiden)

Members of this group are active in the following constellations:

Published by  ASCA

20 December 2017