IAT 885 – New Media & Anthropocene

IAT 885 Special Topics
Digital Disparities: New Media in the Anthropocene

In 2000 scientists Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Strommer popularized the term “Anthropocene” to define our current geological era in which humans are considered to be the main drivers behind global geological and environmental change in our planet. Since then, critiques to the anthropocentrism of the term —from Anthrobscene (Parikka 2015), Chthulucene (Haraway 2015), Eurocene (Grove 2016), Capitalocene, (Moore 2015), Misanthropocene (Clover and Spahr 2014), Aeroecene (Saraceno, 2016) to Plasticene (New York Times 2014), to name a few— have made visible the political implications of the term. In this seminar, students will be asked to focus on how new media intersects with the “Anthropocene” to produce disparities and possibilities. As Howe and Pandian propose perhaps what we need is a “Betacene: a time to test, engage, and experiment with new ways of being in the world and with the world.” (Pandian and Howe 2016).

Students will explore a series of artworks, films, sounds and texts that are defining critical pathways for thinking about the intersections of the Anthropocene and new media, and how these intersections are producing economic, political, social and environmental disparities. More specifically, students in this seminar will be asked to think about:  What are the relationships between geopolitics, conflict and climate change? How are notions of race, gender, and class embedded in and enacted by algorithms? How are social, economic, cultural, environmental and political disparities reproduced in cyberspace? What are some of the ethical questions faced by designers and programmers in the Anthropocene? And, how are new media artists and activists responding to these questions?

Throughout the course, students will be required to write and post individual weekly summaries of readings and lead weekly discussions in teams. The weekly discussion will take the form of oral presentations in which students will demonstrate a deep engagement with the weekly theme and lead the seminar discussion.

The final project will consist of a review essay of an artwork, an exhibition, or a text using one or more of the readings or broad themes discussed in the seminar as a lens of analysis.