Our Keynote speaker for the Working with nature conference is Professor Sean Cubitt, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Nuclear Aesthetics, Media Politics

Nature is not always good and kind. Deposits of radioactive materials near the Earth’s surface do not have to be mined to cause harm to human and other living creatures. Extracting them, condensing them, and redeploying them across the planet does not improve this circumstance. This presentation takes off from the nuclear system as a distinctive but in many ways typical fragment of the kind of human/non-human assemblage on which contemporary digital media depend. Ecocritical work is not only about representations: it concerns the materiality of the media we use, the interconnectedness of disparate human populations and their physical conditions of existence. It points towards a very specific historical constellation of the human/natural division which, in turn structures the means of representation. The question then arises, is there a mode of representation adequate to these means: an eco-political aesthetics of necessarily unnatural media.


Sean is the Deputy Head of Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths College, and one of the leading international voices in media and cultural studies. His research covers a wide range of forms and media, including cinema, television, digital media, animation, and popular culture. His research has strands which focus upon the political economy of globalisation, aesthetics, visual technologies and media art histories. Crucially for the proposed event, Sean’s research also centrally concerned with issues surrounding ecocriticsm, the material environmental impacts of technology and post-colonial criticism.

In addition to the UK, Sean has worked in New Zealand, Canada and Australia, and has honorary appointments at the Universities of Dundee and Melbourne. He has published seven single authored monographs, including EcoMedia (Rodopoi 2005), The Cinema Effect (MIT Press 2004), Digital Aesthetics (Sage 1998) and most recently, The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technology from Prints to Pixels (MIT Press 2014). He has also edited six collections, including The Ecocinema Reader: Theory and Practice (Routledge 2012), and Re:live: Media Art Histories (MIT Press 2013). Sean is on the editorial boards of a number of journals including Screen, Cultural Politics, Animation, International Journal of Cultural Politics, Visual Communications, Futures, Time and Society, Fibreculture, MIRAJ and The New Review of Film and television Studies, and he is the series editor for the Leonardo Book series published by MIT Press. He has also been on the Social Sciences and Other Cultural/Social Sciences panel for the 2006 and 2012 PBRF exercises in New Zealand.


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