Three-D Issue 31: Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene

Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene: Screenworks Special Issue launch event at Cube Cinema, Bristol on – June 20th 2018

The event acted as a showcase and launch for a special issue of Screenworks titled Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene. This special issue developed from the international symposium Digital Ecologies and the Anthropocene which took place at Bath Spa University in 2017. The special issue includes six new practice-research works along with research statements (available here). The selected works consider the connections between digital technologies and the environment exploring their networks, materialities, infrastructures and relation to new forms of waste.

The launch event was well attended and consisted of a diverse set of talks, screenings and a panel. The event began with an introduction by editor of Screenworks Dr Charlotte Crofts, this was followed by a performative lecture from Charlie Tweed (Bath Spa University) who introduced the special issue via a performative lecture titled: The Signal and the rock. The lecture considered the consumption of the earth by the production and operation of digital devices and employed speculative fiction to propose a new relation between technologies and the earth.

Garfield Benjamin then presented a talk about his interactive video Googling the Anthropocene which repurposes Google Earth as a tool for viewing and confronting ecological damage. Existing within a web browser, this work relies on automated scripts which continually generate and display new satellite imagery from Google Earth at different magnifications and coordinates in order to reveal the limited grasp and perspective of the planet this technology can offer.

Alistair Oldham then presented his interactive work ‘Wrecked on the Intertidal Zone’ which documents an art project about the environmental destruction of the Thames estuary.

Following this a selection of works were screened including Adam Fish’s film Points of Presence which exposes the materialities of digital technologies and their vast networked infrastructures operating above and below the earth. The film employs aerial and terrestrial videographic approaches to map the physical reality of the internet and bring into view the sources of material power. The experimental film Y Gors/The Bog by Anne Marie Carty, Nick Jones and Dafydd Sills-Jones was also screened; the film addresses the impact of farming activities and land drainage in an ancient raised peat bog.

Other works screened included The Trembling Giant, by Patrick Tarrant, the work inserts a 16mm projector reel in front of a digital camera which films the Utah landscape, utilising a hybrid filmmaking approach in an attempt to bring Timothy Morton’s notion of the hyperobject into view.

In the final section of the event the filmmakers and Screenworks editors came together to conduct a productive discussion around the themes tackled in the special issue and answer audience questions. A number of pertinent questions were responded to around areas including practice based research methods and the various strategies employed by each practitioner. We would like to take this opportunity to thank MeCCSA for their support which enabled this event to take place and also allowed for most of the practitioners to attend and discuss their work.

Posted by Einar Thorsen