“Anthropocene” is a series of interconnected installations to explore ideas relating to technology, data and geology, in connection to over consumption and waste which, as a result of polluting the environment threatens our survival.
The Anthropocene is a term used to denote the epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems. Jussi Parikka suggests that:
“Geology is the science which investigates the successive changes that have taken place in the organic and inorganic kingdom of nature. It enquires into the causes of these changes, and the influence, which they have exerted in modifying the surface and external structure of the planet. (Parikka 2015)”
The Anthropocene epoch has derived primarily from the application of scientific discoveries in the form of new technological advances and larger material requirements, to fuel the growth of consumer society. Far from being intangible digital technology has also impacted upon our environment due to its high valuable metals and chemical requirements not to mention the fossil fuels needed to power needed to produce build and run this post modern society. The explosion of the Internet, search engines and social media, increasingly force the development of technologies such as micro processors, smart phones and digital devices. Their rapid development as a result, lead to obsolescence, driven not only by consumer demand but psychological and planned obsolescence.
“Anthropocene names the moment at which expanding global capitalism, with its increasingly destructive side effect of pollution, de-forestation, and immiseration, reaches a threshold of self-destruction, but also of self deception. (Clark 2015)”
Obsolescence has become a part of this where self-deception in materialistic culture of modern consumers thrives on the desire for new and more expansive technology. Commercial production has fed this desire for new, by shorting the life cycle or lifetime of the product through a psychological obsolescence.
Digital products have a presence within our environment in the form of data, media or interaction. Data flows constantly around us in the era of wireless Internet and GPS, not only from technology but the geological and natural forms. Parikka argues in relation to geology:
“Our relations with earth are mediated through technologies and techniques of visualization, sonification, calculation, mapping, prediction, simulation and so forth. It is through and in media, that we grasp earth as an object for cognitive, practical and affective relations. (Parikka 2015)”
From Parikka’s understanding we seek to mediate or discover more about the earth through the use of systems and technologies, in order to improve survival, a primary human instinct. Many scientific discoveries in connection with geology come as a result or a need to discover or explore an idea or concept further than ever before. This creates knew knowledge and ideas presented to society in the form of data. This data is not only a technological form of media but also a geological interpretation of the earth as a medium. Controlled and deciphered by the earth itself, as a form of media to which technology seeks to interpret.
The installations themselves have two distinct purposes within the immersive nature of the work: “Fragmented-Anthropocene” Tree, Jar, Mask is designed to provide a post-humanist dialogue on the potential effects of continued geological destruction and the increases in harmful gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide, being produced as a result of unconstrained industrial development and human activityconstantly add to the ozone layer building within our atmosphere?. Moreover the destruction of large areas of trees cleansing the atmosphere the balance of natural resource has reached the edge of its capabilities. The mask connected to the jar is designed to signify the relationship between humanity’s survival and the importance of the environment within this.
“Mediated Anthropocene”. Floor projections provide the audience with an immersive physical encounter in which a surreal and fast moving data flow pass across them and their perceived environment. Projection plays a key role in communicating the interconnection of the tangible and digital by the use of augmentation, in terms of bringing the digital and data environment together. This acts as a reminder of that which is outside of the normal spectrum of human sensory perception.
Each element within the installation has a range meanings and purposes connected to one another. The rubber chipping covering the ground highlights the waste and disused material scattered across the geological landscape, discarded as a result of human consumption and un-resourceful use of the precious material the earth provides. The tree highlights the importance of care to the planet and the geological form and resources that are being affected by human’s irresponsible and damaging behaviour like air pollution and waste.
The digital technologies used have specific functions within the integrated system being displayed. Via data, technology is the mode in which we try to understand the effects which human’s interact with the earth. This is something which cannot be seen by the human eye and which we would not be able to understand without the use of data and simulation technology. Projections are playing the role of mediation and visualisation of the data to the audiences through the form of light displays.
Clark, T., 2015. Ecocriticism on the edge. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Parikka, J., 2015. A geology of media. Minneapolis [u.a.]: Univ. of Minnesota Press.
For more information go to: http://ashleywilkie.co.uk/anthropocene.html