As the editors of the journal Media+ Environment offer, the pairing of the terms ‘media’ and the ‘environment’ generates various conceptual combinations. These include the media as digital ecology/environment, the physical environment as a technologically mediated locale, media that reflect environmental concerns, as well as media’s ontologies and materialities. Representative of the emergent field of environmental media studies, the journal, which was first published in 2019, responds to broader contemporary issues of environmental disaster, the production and impact of infrastructure, the transformative potential of media, and the plurality of environments that are inscribed as ‘digital,’ ‘natural,’ and otherwise.
Taking the mission of the journal as a starting point of inquiry, the Eco/Environmental Media reading group seeks to draw and interrogate critical insights from the emerging field of environmental media studies through a situated perspective. An interdisciplinary network of scholars, curators and writers located from and within Singapore, we are interested in contextualizing the insights of contemporary environmental media theory with respect to contemporary geopolitical infrastructural developments in Southeast and East Asia such as China’s Belt and Road initiative; the development, projection and remaking of Asian planetary sociotechnical imaginaries; the bracketed phenomena of urbanization and urban process, and the current epoch of ‘the Anthropocene.’ We seek to compare theoretical insights with empirical scholarship from design/architecture history, the environmental humanities, Science Technology and Society studies, and Cultural Anthropology that trace how the concepts of ‘media’ and ‘environment’ have been historically and genealogically imbricated. We are also interested in exploring and theorizing the temporal and material dimensions of media, especially as constructed and produced through geopolitical and cultural entanglements. Finally, we would like to also evaluate examples of environmental media theory as articulations of design to think through the various stakes of this emergent project.
Our readings for meetings:
(Introduction to) Sensoria – McKenzie Wark
“Introduction: In Media Res” of The Marvelous Clouds: Towards a Philosophy of Elemental Media – John Durham Peters
“Lights in the Firmament: Sky Media I (Chronos)” and “The Times and the Seasons: Sky Media II (Kairos)” – The Marvelous Clouds, John Durham Peters
“Gas Guzzling Gaia, or: A Prehisory of Climate Change Denialism” – Leah Aronowsky