Features

Residue

Waste and toxicity are foundational categories of knowledge for the Anthropocene. Consider how natural scientists approach the topic. Empirically, the “great acceleration” they’ve identified corresponds to a massive increase in human-generated wastes: carbon molecules, toxic chemicals, radioactive particles, plastics, and much more. Measuring molecular concentrations of these materials, and mapping these measurements onto models of earth systems (such as the …

Features

Drift

The ocean has long been considered the ideal location for the disposal of waste—including, among many other things, treated and untreated sewage poured easily into the sea, the vast quantities of sand and earth displaced into continental margins by harbor dredging, and the irredeemable byproducts of nuclear reactions secretly sunk. The ocean’s vastness, viscerally encountered and culturally reproduced, has seemed …

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Minerals

Mining is a toxic business and gold mining is particularly noxious. Mercury and cyanide pollute river-ways and sentient bodies. The large-scale evacuation of earth often acidifies water tables, literally “lying waste” to land by making it unusable for agriculture and pastoralism. Elsewhere in this series, Claudia Gastrow, Jennifer Wenzel, and Lynn Thomas describe the political architecture of latent …

Features

Lake

Introduction

Urban man-made bodies of water such as lakes can be sources of aesthetic beauty and leisure and can boost a city’s economy and tourism industry. They satisfy what Alex Loftus has called the ‘sensuous human activity that fulfils particular historically defined social needs’ (Loftus, 2007: 43). But the same human activity and the intensification of urbanization have also transformed …

Features

Art

Cape Mongo is a multimedia installation that focuses on consumer waste as medium and subject. It is a complex artwork, comprising sculpture using found materials (mostly what viewers would consider waste or trash), performance, and video work. The main narrative feature of the work is a series of fantastical-looking creatures made from either glass, cardboard, tin cans, plastic, VHS tapes …