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

Summer Intersession 2018 (May 7- June 17)

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 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.






 Tuesday 8 – Introduction

 Thursday 10 – Approaches

  • Feigelfeld, Paul, and Jussi Parikka. 2015. “Media Archaeology Out of Nature: An Interview with Jussi Parikka.” E-Flux Journal, no. 61. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/62/60965/media-archaeology-out-of-nature-an-interview-with-jussi-parikka/.
  • Casemajor, Nathalie. 2015. “Digital Materialisms: Six Frameworks for Digital Media Studies.” Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 10 (The Internet and the Material Turn). https://www.westminsterpapers.org/articles/10.16997/wpcc.209/
  • -Yusoff, Kathryn. 2017. “Epochal Aesthetics: Affectual Infrastructures of the Anthropocene.” E-Flux Journal. http://www.e-flux.com/architecture/accumulation/121847/epochal-aesthetics-affectual-infrastructures-of-the-anthropocene/.

Suggested Resources: 

  • An Anthropocene Premier by Jason M. Kelly & Fiona P. McDonald




 Tuesday 13 – Fossils

  • Petroleum Dreaming by Elizabeth Povinelli
  • Pinkus, Karen, A Speculative Dictionary (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) SELECTIONS
  • Yusoff, Kathryn. 2013. “Geologic Life: Prehistory, Climate, Futures or Do Fossils Fuels Dream of Geologic Life?” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31 (5): 779–95.
  • Robertson, Kirsty. 2016. “Plastiglomerate.” E-Flux Journal, no. 78. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/78/82878/plastiglomerate/.

 Thursday 17– Minerals

  • Parikka, Jussi. 2015. A Geology of Media. University of Minnesota Press. (SELECTIONS)
  • Cubitt, Sean. Finite Media : Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. (SELECTIONS)
  • Gabrys, Jennifer. Digital Rubbish : A Natural History of Electronics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011. (SELECTIONS)

 Suggested Resources:

  • Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life by Elizabeth Ellsworth & Jamie Kruse http://www.geologicnow.com/
  • Mutual Core by Bjork https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM80F_J-QHE
  • Blood in the Mobile by Frank Piasecki Poulsen.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tv-hE4Yx0LU




 Tuesday 22– Bacteria and Soil

  • Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria (2015). “Making time for soil: Technoscientific futurity and the pace of care” In Social Studies of Science, 45(5): 691-716.
  • Normand, Vincent. 2015. “In the Planetarium: The Modern Museum on the Anthropocenic Stage.” In Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, 63–78.
  • -Lorimer, Jamie. n.d. “Probiotic.” Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen. Cultural Anthropology. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/918-probiotic.

Thursday 24- Land

  • Macarena Gómez-Barris, Chapter 2. Andean Phenomenology and New Age Settler Colonialism, 39-66. In The Extractive Zone ( Duke University, 2017).
  • “Indigenizing the Anthropocene” by Zoe Todd in Art in the Antrhopocene
  • “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulhocene,” Donna Haraway in conversation with Martha Kenney” in Art in the Antrhopocene
  • Bruno Latour, “Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime” In Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologie
  • Hird, Myra J., and Alexander Zahara. 2017. “The Arctic Wastes.” In Anthropocene Feminism. University of Minnesota Press. (SELECTIONS)
  • Moore, Jason. 2016. Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. PM Press (SELECTIONS)

 Suggested Resources:

  • Oron Catts, The Tissu Culture and Art Project http://www.tca.uwa.edu.au/
  • HUMAN+ The Future of Our Species https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/humanplus/
  • “Microbiology of the Anthropocene” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213305414000319#!
  • -Pierre Huyghe at LACMA: https://vimeo.com/114378342
  • https://hyperallergic.com/181315/art-with-a-dose-of-imperialism-pierre-huyghe-at-lacma/



WEEK 4 – MAY 28- JUNE 1 – BODIES & Final Project: Proposal presentations

 Tuesday 29 – Bodies

  • Mateo Kries, Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, Amelie Klein, Hello Robot : Design Between Human and Machine. Vitra Museum Design: 2017 (SELECTIONS)
  • Knight, Will. Biased Algorithms Are Everywhere, and No One Seems to Care. In Intelligent Machines (2007)

Thursday 31 -Water

  • Hannigan, John. n.d. “Toward a Sociology of Oceans.” Canadian Review of Sociology 54 (1): 8–27
  • Starosielski, Nicole. The Undersea Network. Sign, Storage, Transmission. Durham: Duke University Press, 2015. (SELECTIONS).

 Suggested Resources:

  • Water, Food Security, and the Future of Agriculture from the Seoul Biennale https://www.urbanfoodshedseoul.org/em-mena-1



WEEK 5 – JUNE 4- 8 . CLOUDS, SKY & TIME & Final Projects: Peer Reviews

Tuesday 5 – Clouds and Sky

  • Becoming Aerosolar: From Solar Sculptures to Cloud Cities project by Tomás Saraceno, Sasha Engelmann & Bronislaw Szerszynski in Art in the Anthropocene
  • Parks, Lisa, and Nicole Starosielski, eds. Signal Traffic : Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures. Geopolitics of Information. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015. (SELECTIONS)
  • Starosielski, Nicole, and Janet Walker, eds. Sustainable Media : Critical Approaches to Media and Environment. New York: Routledge, 2016. (SELECTIONS)
  • Gabrys, Jennifer. Digital Rubbish : A Natural History of Electronics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011. (SELECTIONS)

 Thursday 7- Time

  • Beck, John. 2014. “The Call of the Anthropocene.” Cultural Politics 10 (3).
  • Hu, Tung-Hui. 2012. “Real Time/Zero Time.” Discourse, 163–84.
  • Parikka, Jussi, and Wolfgang Ernst. n.d. “Temporality and the Multimedial Archive.” In Digital Memory and the Archive, 75–140.
  • Pignatti, Lorenza. 2017. “Experiments in Eternity: Erkki Kurenniemi.” E-Flux Journal, no. 85. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/85/155474/experiments-in-eternity-erkki-kurenniemi/

Suggested Resources:

  •  Paglen, Trevor. n.d. The Last Pictures. http://paglen.com/lastpictures/main.php?m=overview&p=.
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan tape Echo http://lawrenceabuhamdan.com/#/tape-echo/
  • White On White by Eve Sussmanhttps://vimeo.com/72393953
  • Smog Tasting by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy http://genomicgastronomy.com/work/2011-2/smog-tasting/




Tuesday 10 –  Cosmos

  • Battaglia, Debbora. n.d. “Cosmos as Commons: An Activation of Cosmic Diplomacy.” E-Flux Journal, no. 58. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/58/61180/cosmos-as-commons-an-activation-of-cosmic-diplomacy/.
  • Povinelli, Elizabeth A. 2016. “Geontologies: The Figures and the Tactics.” E-Flux Journal 78. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/78/81514/geontologies-the-figures-and-the-tactics/
  • Povinelli, Elizabeth A. 2017. “Geontologies: The Concept and Its Territories” 81. http://www.e-flux.com/journal/81/123372/geontologies-the-concept-and-its-territories/

 Thursday 12  – Final Project Presentations




Final projects are due at the end of the exam week of the Intersession Semester, June 25.