New Criticals

In a stunning essay-book titled The Anthrobscene, Jussi Parikka argues that our media era is fundamentally geophysical, that geology itself is a media resource, and that we need to understand media in terms of dynamic, accidental processes rather than as a library of static, solid objects.

Media theory demands a nonlinear and far more radical account of both materiality and time. In response, Parikka posits a new context, the anthrobscene, a play on the anthropocene, or the geological period started by humans. The context of the anthrobscene could potentially help us understand how our digital media – our devices, computers and networks – are inextricably tied to organic and inorganic materials and the hunt for energy.

Parikka is a Finnish scholar of technological culture and aesthetics, and the author of Insect Media (2010) and Digital Contagions (2007). This new essay pours the foundation for his forthcoming book, Geology of Media. His prose is a real joy: a rare combination of critical precision and poetry, weaving subtly between argument and anecdote.