What is the Anthropocene?

  • Objective / scientific legitimacy making people rethink their relationship to our world.
  • Redefinition of a period that is concerned with the impact of human life and nature
  • Anthropocene was started by a Dutch scientist, we need a new definition of geological time periods; an update to the existing period ( Holocene) to Anthropocene
  • This topic can be used as a topic for the extended  essay
  • To do with the effects, a reflection on humans relation to the world.
  • Destabilisation?
  • Scientific name/period change (awaiting confirmation at the International Commission on Stratigraphy) succeeding the Holocene (last 11,500 years approx. from end of last ice age)
  • Conceptual challenge/redefinition of human being as geologically significant species
  • Term used in global climate change debates/activism
  • Geologically significant, the world isn’t permanent, changes relations to our environment through Activism, Art, Culture.
  • Scientific elements of discourse: greenhouse gases, industrialisation, voice over/narration (voice of god; authority telling us the facts/figures
  • Charting scientific developments, infographic data (animated), numbers, facts and figures
  • Mapping, diagrams (scientific intimacy)

‘Welcome to the Anthropocene’

  • Scientific discourse elements?
  • Numbers, Diagrams and charts
  • Photography/maps
  • Voice-over: fact-based account


  • Climate Change: global warming: extreme weather, flooding
  • Geopolitical and economic consequences, egs?
  • Mass species extinction ‘event’
  • Geopolitical and economic consequences
  • The term ‘Global Warming’ was changed to ‘Climate Change’ because the term was believed to be more suitable, ‘Climate change’ reflects the turbulent/de-stabilized nature
  • Currently experiencing anxiety about migration flows linked with flooding areas… (Consequence)

Digital Media

  • Where are they in this account?
  • 1. As media: history of media in history of industrialisation, global expansion: press, radio, film, tv, web
  • Ideas/ideologies of modernity and progress
  • advertising, marketing, upgrade culture
  • 2. As digital: i.e. as computers…
  • Collapse of biodiversity?, we are already in a mass extinction event, implications on human survival/extinction
  • Where are these accounts?… Are they a vehicle of a potential solution; accessible in sharing ideas of Anthropocene
  • Bio-art? Turning biological processes into culturally fuel meaning and representation
  • Using tech to skirt around the issue potentially?
  • We are automatically relying on technology to fix this impending issue? A technological fix, future trouble; colonising mars
  • Denial of the situation, irresponsible when you’re only considering the solution not the cause of the problem


  • What materials/elements are they made with/from?
  • Silicone, Aluminum etc.
  • Advertising, penetration of media everywhere
  • A major part in the industrialisation of society through mainstream media
  • Mediations of the world shopping processes, attitudes, ideologies
  • Ideas of what progress is?


  • Consumer society…


  • Silicon, basic components of the microchip on control and regulate the conduction of electricity on a small scale (micro-electronics) found in sand mining.


  • Aluminium (Bauxite)


  • Plastics are made from fracking of oil (by-product of oil/coal)


  • Burning oil to make petrol for cars, plastics etc.


  • We should replace plastics


  • Western Countries > Tracking, extracting petrol gases, explosions to produce gas and extract it

Petrochemicals, coal, natural gas

  • Including energy supplied, computers/digital devices use more of these than any other material/mineral resource
  • (Media/geo-art)
  • YoHa: ‘81% of the energy used in a computer’s life cycle is expended in the manufacturing process, now taking place in countries with high levels of coal consumption’
  • Making computers is an incredibly energy costing material; can make a small car with the same amount of energy
  • Central players / ingredients to climate change
  • Unregulated coal mines, coal fire computer
  • Creating an insight into the processes involved in the production of digital computers; the sale value etc.
  • Production/recovery phases
  • ’The Cloud’ costs substantial amounts of energy ; material burns coal and oil

See “Graham Harwood and Yokokoji (YoHa), Coal Fired Computers, 2010 [Installation at AV Festival, Source: Jon & Alison]”

‘The Cloud’

  • Power
  • Back-up power
  • Cooling
  • Security

Materials of the earth

  • Coal/oil: 100-400 million years
  • Bauxite (raw material for aluminium) mining in Khondistan, India
  • Silicone, found in sand dunes, they are sensitive and have dynamic eco-systems, any change will affect the environment drastically.

Not to mention….

  • Cobalt
  • Gallium
  • Tantalum
  • Indium
  • Platinum
  • Germanium
  • And many more: eg. approx. 70 materials in a contemporary microprocessor chip-board
  • ‘Strategic minerals/elements’… rare materials that are essential to the production of computers and smart phones, We will run out of these in 20-30 years, estimates are constantly decreasing; premium of recycling increases

Mediated modernity’s ‘deep time’

  • The ‘Anthropocene’: ‘we’ have made historical time (X000s) impact on geological time (X00,000s – X,000,000s)
  • Media ‘ecology’, geology:
  • Re-examine media’s relations to ‘nature’, environment.
  • Rethink human and technology timescales, developmental implications, ethics, politics etc.
  • Cave art, Tool use/development,
  • Effects on earth will be readable in +billions (X0000000000+) Time into the future


  • What iis media (again)?
  • ‘Reconceptualizing microelectronics devices as toxic trash with a pathologically short use-time rather than the sleek and shiny objects of desire which we see in advertising campaigns, storefronts, and in our daily lives immediately removes us from our habitual engagement with these technologies.’
  • Sy Taffel, ‘Archaeologies of ElectronicWaste’, 82
  • Participate in longer circuits of time/space
  • Buying into a pleasant experience rather than the material product

Mediating apocalypse

  • Zylinska: art ‘brings forth realities, concepts and values’
  • Anthropocene ‘art’: ‘extinction porn’:
  • Eg. Ruin photos
  • Changing how we perceive reality
  • Strongly emphasized ways of understanding the world
  • Apocalypse porn
  • Transgressive (Looking at something that you shouldn’t be seen, obscene)
  •  Pleasuring yourself in a unpredictable way
  • Sensational, extreme, guilty fascination/obsession


  • Archetype of post-industrial failed city; ‘ghost spaces’
  • Doing what art does… creating a romantic art projection; taking the waste of society and representing it as something of beauty and something to be pondered and reflected on..

eg. Life After People series

‘Life After People’ Observations

  • Apocalypse porn…
  • Entropy: a process of decay within any system that is reduced to its natural materiality, a complex system that needs energy to be maintained; if this energy was absent it would fail and decay quickly leading to collapse where everything is on a level playing field…
  • NE entropy: a counter concept baffling entropy…

Textual Analysis & Observations

  • Computer graphics
  • World we have left behind
  • Voice of God
  • Iconography, worn down appearance
  • Intense dramatic and suspenseful music
  • Documentary / infographic style
  • Fast cutting flashes, quick passes implies sudden end and the fragility of human life
  • Interviews from experts and varying opinion, revealing / building narrative, connects and separates scenes
  • Draws on common discourses of the everyday, creating relatability by using car alarms, alarm clocks and scenes from both domestic settings
  • Lights have gone out
  • Ominous voice over, with serious voice of god narration paired with time-lapse footage
  • Hoover-Dame, unattended (human absence) would possibly be the last thing to go out?
  • Cheesy editing like fades and disappearances of humans, super imposing?
  • Chernobyl
  • Nature reclaiming human infrastructure, reached the point of no-return
  • Cultural center now completely lost, killed off by radiation
  • Effects of human absence outweighed effects of human absence