A Geology of Media

A Geology of Media

JUSSI PARIKKA
N. Katherine Hayles
Peter Krapp
Rita Raley
Samuel Weber
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt13x1mnj
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  • Book Info
    A Geology of Media
    Book Description:

    Media history is millions, even billions, of years old. That is the premise of this pioneering and provocative book, which argues that to adequately understand contemporary media culture we must set out from material realities that precede media themselves-Earth's history, geological formations, minerals, and energy. And to do so, writes Jussi Parikka, is to confront the profound environmental and social implications of this ubiquitous, but hardly ephemeral, realm of modern-day life.

    Exploring the resource depletion and material resourcing required for us to use our devices to live networked lives, Parikka grounds his analysis in Siegfried Zielinski's widely discussed notion of deep time-but takes it back millennia. Not only are rare earth minerals and many other materials needed to make our digital media machines work, he observes, but used and obsolete media technologies return to the earth as residue of digital culture, contributing to growing layers of toxic waste for future archaeologists to ponder. He shows that these materials must be considered alongside the often dangerous and exploitative labor processes that refine them into the devices underlying our seemingly virtual or immaterial practices.

    A Geology of Mediademonstrates that the environment does not just surround our media cultural world-it runs through it, enables it, and hosts it in an era of unprecedented climate change. While looking backward to Earth's distant past, it also looks forward to a more expansive media theory-and, implicitly, media activism-to come.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4456-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. 1 MATERIALITY: GROUNDS OF MEDIA AND CULTURE
    (pp. 1-28)

    To label yourself a materialist does not necessarily by itself mean much. The term is something that demands explication, instead of explaining by its own powers. The long histories of materialism and idealism in philosophy are one reference point, but so are the everyday uses of the term: do we refer to it as the opposite of spiritual or ethical (as in expressions of disgust toward the materialist aspects of consumer society) or refer to the reality of machines and technology that structure our life. The Marxist legacy in political thought and theory has given us indication what historical materialism...

  6. 2 AN ALTERNATIVE DEEP TIME OF THE MEDIA
    (pp. 29-58)

    The debates about the Anthropocene and electronic waste underline a necessity to engage with the geophysical stakes of media cultural infrastructure. Much of recent years’ focus has been on the cloud and its promise of disappearance of hardware and the immaterial embeddedness in data. However, the cloud brings with it a demand to develop new political vocabularies that address the double bind of technical materiality and conceptual immateriality, as Seb Franklin argues.¹ The issue of the cloud extends to software cultures and their disappearance into a branch of the service industries;² it brandishes the importance of the hardware in new...

  7. 3 PSYCHOGEOPHYSICS OF TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 59-82)

    A lesson from the early geological discourse of the eighteenth century: earth is a massive heat engine. Inside it lies the bursting hot molten core as a seemingly eternal and yet historically formed source of energy. The rise and movement of landmasses from the seas is the breath of the earth. What sounds like the later Gaia theory of the earth as a living entity is already in limited ways part of the earlier geological discourse. Inhale, exhale. The soil is a central mediating element. Agriculture cultivates life, but soil is media—or like the currently increasing demand for synthetic...

  8. 4 DUST AND THE EXHAUSTED LIFE
    (pp. 83-108)

    I used to live in the north. Even southern Finland had its fair share of snow some years, which meant the necessity to bring skis to sports class and, on alternate weeks, skates. Next to the ice skating rink was something to which one never really paid attention: the snow depot, growing from the snow gathered by clearing the streets after snowy nights. The mounds were sometimes rather big even in such a small town and perfect natural, although temporary, hills for sliding or building a snow castle.

    I never thought of them as much more than that. I never...

  9. 5 FOSSIL FUTURES
    (pp. 109-136)

    This chapter follows the path of geology outward to space. It also moves from deep times to future times by speculating on the idea of future fossils, as a future temporality turned back to the current moment. The fossil is in this sense a question about the contemporary that expands across multiple times. We are forced to investigate the persistence of the fossil as a material monument that signals a radical challenge to prevailing notions of time. This happened in the early modern times, with fossils presented as material evidence that was incapable of fitting into the scheme of biblical...

  10. AFTERWORD: SO-CALLED NATURE
    (pp. 137-140)

    Geology of media deals with the weird intersections of earth materials and entangled times. It includes several events that reveal this combination of the planetary ancient and the technologically advanced. The futuristic changes place with the obsolete in ways that are at times too close to notice. The design culture of the new hides the archaic materials of the planet.

    The explosive event of industrialization was dependent on new forms of energy; coal, oil, and gas became main drives replacing the reliance on wind, water, plants, trees, and animals as energy sources.¹ After dirty aesthetics of coal that painted the...

  11. APPENDIX. ZOMBIE MEDIA: CIRCUIT BENDING MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY INTO AN ART METHOD
    (pp. 141-154)
    Garnet Hertz and Jussi Parikka
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 155-192)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 193-206)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-210)