Addressing the current upswing of humanities-based, scientific and environmental arts and attention in relation to the recent proposition that we have entered a new human-driven epoch called the Anthropocene, this new book by cultural critic and art historian T.J. Demos presents a critical overview of that thesis, and its limitations in conceptualisation and in practice.
Looking at multiple examples of visual culture — including popular science websites, remote sensing and SatNav imagery, photographic documentation, eco-activist mobilizations, and experimental art projects — the book argues that the Anthropocene terminology works ideologically in support ofneoliberalism’s financialization of nature, anthropocentrism’s political economy, and the endorsement of geoengineering as the preferred — but likely disastrous — method of addressing climate change, constituting further modes of environmental violence.
To democratise decisions about the world’s near future, Demos proposes that we urgently need to subject the Anthropocene thesis to critical scrutiny and develop creative alternatives in our precarious present — which is the ultimate goal of Against the Anthropocene.
This program is presented on the occasion of the international conference accompanying the 2016-2018 Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics at The New School on Nov. 3 and 4.
“Against the Anthropocene is much more than simply ‘against.’ In this short, accessible, and fiercely written book, T. J. Demos shows how visual culture is implicated in the Anthropocene’s occlusions as well as a resource for conceptualizing—and mobilizing for—emancipatory alternatives. Deftly weaving together environmental accounts, scholarly arguments, and activist mobilizations, Demos makes an impassioned argument for new modes of thinking and representing the global environmental crisis that refuse the old fictions of the ‘social’ and the ‘natural.’ It is a book that shows how visual culture matters in our struggle for a just and livable future.”
—Jason W. Moore, Associate Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University