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The Ecomedia/sphere: Technology as Ecomedia

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Various academic disciplines are undergoing enormous conceptual turns that are shifting discussions about technology and media. The first is a turn to the Anthropocene, which recognizes how our current geological epoch is being transformed by human activity, largely driven by anthropocentric technology designed to improve the human condition while at the same time disregarding its impact on living systems. The second turn is towards the material, which refocuses our attention on the material conditions of media, technology and reality. For this presentation, I focus on how the emerging concept of ecomedia combines both of these turns to recalibrate how we approach media studies and technology from an ecocentric perspective. Drawing on a novel analytical framework called the “ecomediasphere,” the presentation demonstrates how technological gadgets can be reconceptualized as boundary objects that impact a variety of “ecomediatones,” such as culture, political economy, materiality and lifeworld. This framework updates the “circuit of culture” approach to technology developed by cultural studies by applying an ecocritical critique to media technology, society and culture.

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The Ecomedia/sphere: Technology as Ecomedia

  1. 1. The Ecomedia/sphere: Technology as Ecomedia Antonio López, PhD Chair & Associate Professor John Cabot University What is Technology? Portland, OR 2019 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  2. 2. Media ecosystem approach Medium grows culture • Medium is a carrier of something (a mixture of nutrients “needed for growth”) • Human society is an organism that depends on nutrients for growth • Media ecology: society is shaped by medium of communication i.e. print or internet • Media environments grow culture • Internet is “growing” something new, but to what effect? “Blogging and the media ecosystem,” John Naughton (2006)
  3. 3. Media ecosystem approach Some media ecosystems • World-ecology: capitalism is an ecosystem • “Facebook ecosystem” “iPhone ecosystem” • “News ecosystem” • Regional media ecosystems (i.e. Italy, Europe, Hong Kong, China, globe, etc.) Media as ecosystems Media ecosystem is the relationship between the media environment and its members Like ecology, smaller ecosystems are embedded in larger ecosystems New technologies, events, members can “disturb” system, change it
  4. 4. Ecomedia system: ecological footprint
  5. 5. Ecomedia: ecological mindprint
  6. 6. Related/subfields • Green cultural studies • Ecocriticism • Ecolinguistics • Ecocinema • Media ecology • Environmental communication • Environmental humanities • Postcolonial ecocriticism • Mediamaterialism/ecomaterialism/infrastructure studies • Affective ecology • Slow media Ecomedia: Key Issues (Rust et al) Three key themes: • Representation • Communication • Materiality Ecomedia—“the intermediation of everything” (Cubitt, Sustainable Media, p. 166) Ecomedia reframes media as ecological media. There are no media that are inseparable from the material conditions of the environment that produced them.
  7. 7. Environmental ideology and ethics “Carmanah Contrast,” Robert Bateman, 1989 Source: http://robertbateman.ca/paintings/89-04CarmanahContrast.html
  8. 8. Environmental Ideology “…a way of thinking about the natural world that a person uses to justify actions towards it.” Corbett p. 26 Ecological Ethics “how human beings ought to behave in relation to non-human nature” Curry, 2006, p. 47
  9. 9. Anthropocentric Ecocentric Instrumental Intrinsic Ideology Ethics
  10. 10. Anthropocentric Ecocentric “dark green”“light green” “mid-green”“brown” From: Julia Corbett, Communicating Nature (2006)
  11. 11. Ecomedia/sphere
  12. 12. World (mental model/ideology/world system) Earth (physical ecosystem/Earth system) Political eco/nomyCulture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Ecomediasphere Cultural productionSymbolic order Materials extraction, manufacture, production Physical ecosystems EmbodiednessAffect/ Sensory experience Bioculture/languaculture Time/space Affective pop culture Medium properties “Sphere” but web-like Defamiliarize w/ new language Heuristic Orientation tool discourses
  13. 13. Image source: https://mjthackray.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/representation-of-the-ipod-sony-walkman-part-2/
  14. 14. Necker cube Image source: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/philosophy-of-technology/0/steps/26324 Don Ihde: “multistability”; technology are only what they are in use
  15. 15. Political (eco)nomy(Eco)culture Lifeworld (Eco)materialism Ecomediasphere Boundary object/ system-to-think- with “Resource media” Scales between Media object and Hyper-objects Media commons Media Object Types of media objects
  16. 16. Ecomediasphere Four “scapes” of media commons Ecoculture Media-centric/qualitative (text and meanings) Text and discourse analysis of media texts; mapping cultural behaviors and attitudes Political Economy Socio-centric/quantitative (social forces) Ideological structure of the global economics system; political economy of media Ecomaterialism Ecology and environmental studies, material infrastructure The material conditions of media and environment, including extraction, production, e-waste, energy and emissions; medium properties Lifeworld Phenomenology, reception studies, media ecology Media’s sensory affect and impact on our perception of time, space and place; sensory responses; cognitive dispositions
  17. 17. World (mental models/ideology/world system) Earth (physical ecosystem/Earth system) Ecomediasphere Socioenvironmental realms: World System/ Earth System Spheres Commons/ Enclosure Biosphere Ecosphere Ethnosphere Semiosphere Technosphere Ecomediasphere
  18. 18. World (mental model/ideology/world system) Earth (physical ecosystem/Earth system) Political economyEcoculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Ecomediasphere Ecologies of interconnected networks Mental ecology Political/social ecologyCultural ecology Physical ecology
  19. 19. Political economy Ecoculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Ecomediasphere Emerging disciplines of ecomedia Affective ecology Media materialism Flow/materials ecology Eco-materialism Green cultural/media studies Ecocriticism Ecofeminism Post-colonial ecocriticism Environmental communication Media archeology Media infrastructure Ecomedia studies Ecocinema studies Media ecology Ecolinguistics
  20. 20. World (mental model/ideology/world system) Earth (physical ecosystem/Earth system) Political economyEcoculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Ecomediasphere Boundary work Ecomediatones (ecotone, edge ecology) Cultural productionSymbolic order Materials extraction, manufacture, production Physical ecosystems EmbodiednessAffect/ Sensory exp. Bioculture/languaculture Time/space Affective pop culture Medium properties Ideology Anthrop. vs Eco discourses
  21. 21. Political Eco/nomy Ecoculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Gadget Cognitive dispositions Emotions Medium properties Material reality Political and economic forces Social and cultural practices Beliefs Ideology/Cosmology Affordances/constraints Beliefs Platform design Political economy • Carbon-capitalism • “Oilygarchy” • “Deep media” • Advertising • Consumerism • Attention economy (legacy and social media) • Surveillance capitalism • Extractivism, externalization • Platform capitalism • Planned obsolescence • Neocolonialism/globalization • Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft • “Appconn”/”Chimerica” Ecoculture (beliefs) • Values/eco-ethics • Anthropocentric vs. ecocentric • Consumerism • Racism, sexism • Egalitarianism • Language frames/discourses • Green cultural citizenship Ecomaterialism (affordances/constraints) • Shareability/spreadability • Algorithms • Interacive • E-waste • Emissions • EMFs Lifeworld (cognitive dispositions) • Selective exposure, confirmation bias, reality maintenance, screen addiction, etc. • Addiction, attention • Emotional response, alienation, sense of place • Affect Labor practices
  22. 22. Political Eco/nomy Eculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Fake Climate News Cognitive dispositions Emotions Medium properties Material reality Political and economic forces Social and cultural practices Beliefs Ideology Affordances/constraints Beliefs Platform design Political eco/nomy • Carbon- and consumer- based capitalism • Attention economy (legacy and social media) • Far-right media ecosystem • Platform capitalism Ecoculture (beliefs) • Values (white-nationalist, conservative, liberal, green, radical) • Anthropocentric vs. ecocentric • Language frames/discourses • “Six Americas” Ecomaterialism (affordances/constraints) • Shareability/spreadability • Algorithms • Interacive Lifeworld (cognitive dispositions) • Selective exposure, confirmation bias, reality maintenance, screen addiction, etc. • Emotional response • Affect
  23. 23. Political eco/nomyEcoculture Lifeworld Ecomaterialism Ecomedia/sphere Example ecomedia/ sphere analysis Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Ecofeminist themes Biopolitics Ecoapocolypse Genre (car chase, post-apocalypse) Identities (gender) Cognitive response Affect of spectacle Violence Firstness Film as a global commodity Industrial characteristics of film production Film as a material object Environmental problems related to production Ideology Response of audience Film language Film critics, Rotten Tomatoes Ideology Sound, image
  24. 24. Thanks! alopez@johncabot.edu

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