Light, Metabolisms, Elemental Media: Theorising Human Mediality in the Anthropocene

This paper applies concepts of elemental media and metabolisms to the case of cosmic and planetary ecologies that emerge from the interaction between Earth and Sun, manifesting in photosynthesis or carbon isotope chemistry. In doing so, it expands on registers of media theory and environmental studies and prompts the reader to consider the medial and archival affordances of the light-based interactions, and further processes they give rise to. The main aim of the paper is to use these observations to speculate about the human condition in the Anthropocene, characterised by the experience of human mediality. The paper addresses human mediality mainly in the dimension of affective qualities this condition may prompt, and the resulting narrative model of selfhood – the metabolic self. The paper develops its conceptual contribution in close proximity with several artistic examples, especially Eduardo Navarro’s performance In Collaboration with the Sun (2017–2019). The paper is positioned as a contribution to studies of multispecies cohabitation and more-than-human communication, while also developing a narrative strategy for talking about the decentred position of human species in the more-than-human world-making.

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Likavčan, L. 2023. Light, Metabolisms, Elemental Media: Theorising Human Mediality in the Anthropocene. Visual Resources, DOI: 10.1080/01973762.2023.2253099.