FoNM 2009: New Media and the Environment
My post last night (“Sparks“) was supposed to introduce a rundown of some of the topics we’ll be covering at this year’s Frontiers of New Media symposium, but parenthood suddenly intervened. I’m back now to give you a sense of the range of things we’ll be talking about this Saturday. As I said last night, the topics cover a wide range, but I have faith we’ll see some emergent order form amidst the chaos. (At least I hope so, as I’m going to be leading the wrap-up session Saturday afternoon!)
The 2007 symposium, you may recall, looked at the history of new and old communications media in the particular contest of the American West. For the 2009 symposium, we wanted to broaden the scope of our vision, to talk about regions and frontiers all over the globe, without giving up attention to the role of places and spaces. Supposedly “place-transcending media” remain, we know, powerfully shaped and defined by local cultures, regional advantages or disadvantages, territorial governments, and by the earth’s environment itself.
One way we aim to get at this issue is with a panel on “New Media and the Environment.” This panel will feature Toby Miller, Kevin DeLuca, Dylan Wolfe, and Eric Schienke. (You can see the complete symposium schedule here.) All of these panelists work, in different ways, on questions of media technology, rhetoric, and environmental politics, both in the sense of activism and ecological governance.
I’ve talked a little about Toby Miller‘s work already; he’ll be giving a talk provisionally titled “After the Internet.” He’ll be followed by the University of Utah’s own Kevin DeLuca. Author of Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism, Kevin studies humanity’s relations to nature and how those relations are mediated by technological and ideological discourses. That sounds like a good fit with the work of Dylan Wolfe, an assistant professor of visual communication at Clemson University. He will (I think) be talking about the rhetorical force of images in on-line environmental activism. Finally, Erich Schienke of Pennsylvania State will be talking about environmental information systems and ecological governance in China. Erich, I should add, has a terrific and positively Borgesian list of research interests in his online bio. He writes on, we are told:
“ecology, ethnography, China, sustainable development, environmental ethics, climate change, globalization, discursive imaginaries, scale, urban development, society and the carbon cycle, Deleuze, cinema, the construction of image-events and movement-images, maps, geographic information systems, biodiversity, floatation tanks, ecotectures, loudspeakers, cybernetics, indoor greening, home-scale food production, posture and perception, Bateson, design studies, participatory design, environmental justice, toxic environments, public understanding of science, surveillance and public space, informatic schismogenisis, data reciprocity, Nietzsche, the eternal return, travelling, constructions of knowledge and performances of power, cooking, fermenting things, fishing, science and the state, and panda porn.”
I don’t know how many of those topics Erich can get through in fifteen to twenty minutes, but that sounds like a talk you would not want to miss!