This week Cultures of Energy welcomes the brilliant (and fully certified) sound artist and composer Lawrence English (http://lawrenceenglish.com) to the podcast. Lawrence explains his relational approach to listening and how he became interested in the practice of field recording. We discuss the difference between hearing and listening, field recording as a political act, aesthetics of signal and noise, and how different ears have different horizons of listening. As a non-linear medium, Lawrence emphasizes the endlessness and promiscuousness of sound and how listening can help us reconnect to our immediate environments and to the world at large. Relish the incidental! In our final segment, (63:18) we mix for your audition and pleasure several clips from Lawrence’s 2012 field recording collection, Songs Of The Living And The Lived In (http://emporium.room40.org/categories/lawrence-english-editions). See if you can recognize the Antarctic fur seal sleeping, Amazonian howler monkeys, Cormorants flocking at dusk, Australian chiroptera, Adele penguin chicks, Antarctic fur seals very much awake, white-throated toucans’ dawn display and a trigona carbonaria hive invasion.
This week’s energy humanities podcast recaps and takes inspiration from CENHS’s fifth annual spring research symposium, otherwise known as Cultures of Energy 5 (http://culturesofenergy.com/cultures-of-energy-april-21-23-2016-poster-and-schedule/), which took place at Rice last week in the afterwash of Houston’s historic flooding. Cymene and Dominic share fond memories from the symposium and then, inspired by the Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen project, (http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/803-lexicon-for-an-anthropocene-yet-unseen), several of our distinguished visitors offer short takes and keywords for the Anthropocene. Cara Daggett (Johns Hopkins) goes to “work” (13:50), Andreas Malm (Lund) offers “resistance” (17:47), and Lynn Badia (Alberta) muses on “free” (22:50). Graeme Macdonald (Warwick) shows us his “passport” (24:58) and smudge studio (Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse, http://www.smudgestudio.org) walk us through “ippo” (30:00). Finally, Toronto-based poet Mathew Henderson reads (36:30) from his remarkable collection, The Lease (http://www.chbooks.com/catalogue/lease). All in all, we celebrate energy humanities as an alien intelligence in our petrocultural system. Get ready for Cultures of Energy 6 in 2017!
It’s all about plants on this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast. Our guide is anthropologist Natasha Myers, director of the Plant Studies Collaboratory at York University (https://natashamyers.wordpress.com) and author of Rendering Life Molecular: Models, Modelers, and Excitable Matter (Duke University Press, 2015). We talk about Natasha’s work in savannah ecosystems millennia in the making, how to sniff out chemical atmospheres and queer environmental monitoring practices. Natasha explains how plants conduct inquiry in their worlds, their sense and sentience, how they both catalyze and epitomize ecological relations. We discuss how plants trouble human notions of subjectivity, the possibility a plant-based phenomenology, end-of-time botanical tourism in Singapore, and whether gardening can be a redemptive practice. Natasha envisions plants as photosynthetic world-makers and tells us that if we humans want to thrive, our plants needs to thrive too. It’s time to embrace the Planthropocene.
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast turns toward the Middle East as Dominic and Cymene speak (8:35) with Rutgers historian Toby Jones, author of Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Harvard University Press, 2010) and Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis (Rutgers University Press, 2015). The conversation reveals the knotted history of energy, water, security and infrastructure that has led to a seemingly endless war machine in the region. We talk about how the politics of water in the making of the Saudi Arabian state, how American energy and military agendas became fused together in the Gulf, the relationship between sovereignty and shipping and how to use seawater as a theory machine. Toby encourages us all to acknowledge energy’s place in the war machine and to commit ourselves to ending war for energy.
Cymene and Dominic talk drug awareness to open this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast and then (6:10) share laughs and ecological thoughts with their marvelous and occasionally hallucinatory colleague, Tim Morton, author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Columbia University Press, 2016). Tim explains how his brain works, why object oriented ontology isn’t your granddaddy’s philosophy, how ambiguity is a signal of reality in the Anthropocene, and what we need to put into the drinking water to save the world. We talk about how comedy is the same as thinking, why Interstellar is ecological and sooo much more. In a dramatic last-minute reveal, we also learn Tim’s pick to direct Dark Ecology: The Movie.
This episode is our first recorded out of the studio and on the road in St. Andrews, Scotland. Dominic and Cymene appreciate all that St. Andrews has to offer by way of golf, gulls and edible money and then (7:11), in the comfort of lovely 5 Pilmour Place (http://www.5pilmourplace.com), speak with writer, poet and ethnographer Laura Watts (http://sand14.com) about her longstanding research in Orkney. We learn about an extraordinary place where the world’s renewable energy future has already been realized, where wind, wave and tidal power provide over 100% of the archipelago’s electricity, where people talk and think energy constantly. Laura reads from her new poetic primer on marine renewable energy, Ebban An’ Flowan, and introduces us to The Electric Nemesis, Victor Frankenstein’s Orcadian bride, born out of electricity and abandoned by hubris, a reminder of the importance of what is happening in the “energy islands.”
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is brought to you by the number zero. Our co-hosts cover the need for more fun in academic life and Hollywood takes on the Anthropocene. Then (9:11) Cymene speaks with the ever joyful Diane Nelson, Professor of Anthropology at Duke University and author of Who Counts? The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Duke University Press, 2015). They talk hot-tub feminism, the power of numbers in how we think and feel about the world, genocide in the Capitalocene, and the politics of land, forests and hydroelectric power in Guatemala today. Diane offers us lessons from living in a country that has experienced massive human and environmental losses but also reminds us that, like the number zero, every end is also a beginning.
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is a double episode focusing on two art shows that CENHS has sponsored for Houston’s FotoFest 2016 biennial, “Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet” (http://2016biennial.fotofest.org). In the intro segment, Cymene and Dominic talk to Rice English Professor Joseph Campana, Director of CENHS’s Arts & Media Research Cluster. Joe curated the CENHS-FotoFest show and realized it in collaboration with the Rice Building Workshop. We discuss the concept for the show and it’s many reinventions and creative partnerships along the way.
Then we delve deeper with the artists themselves. First, (12:53) we speak to Marina Zurkow about the collaborative project Dear Climate (http://dearclimate.net) that she has developed together with Una Chaudhuri, Oliver Kellhammer, and Fritz Ertl. Dear Climate juxtaposes punky agitprop posters with podcasts encouraging meditation and compassion for our environment. It unfolds from the certainty that no paradigmatic changes are coming without changing how we think about the world. With Marina, we talk about how art should hybridize instead of proselytize, creating material encounters that can short-circuit expectations. Jellyfish and dandelions also make special guest appearances.
In the final segment (44:46) we interview Judy Natal about her latest multimedia project, Another Storm is Coming. Judy describes her research adventures in East Texas and Southern Louisiana. She talks about the beautiful people she met in places like Port Arthur and Cameron Parish and how they have struggled to remain resilient in one of the world’s most active hurricane corridors. We talk about the cultural complexity of storms, about the entanglements of oil culture and nature, and what is fascinating about shorelines and other liminal spaces. Judy asks us (all): What kind of light and air do we want to live with in the future?
Dominic and Cymene debate what Albertan city is most like Houston and then (6:44) talk to Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies and Sociology at the University of Alberta. They discuss Imre’s work with the Petrocultures Research Group (http://petrocultures.com) and the many dimensions of its After Oil project (http://afteroil.ca/). What is the allure of the tar sands? How does petroleum steer politics in Alberta and Canada? Why are First Nations at the forefront of blocking new fossil fuel infrastructures? Can energy humanities get involved in game design and secondary school education? These answers (and more) on this week’s podcast.
Cymene and Dominic embrace amateurism as they have trouble pronouncing names on this week’s podcast. Then (8:28) they talk to Stephanie LeMenager, Professor of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, author of Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford University Press, 2014) and founding co-editor of the journal, Resilience. The conversation explores how we live with oil and how oil lives in us, speculative fiction, teaching climate change, and how the arts and humanities can chart new ways of being together.
On this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic share getting up close and personal with the Anthropocene in the form of Tropical Storm Jonas. Then (6:26) Dominic talks with Roy Scranton, the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (City Lights, 2015) and our most recent postdoctoral fellow at CENHS. Dominic and Roy talk about how philosophy can help us come to terms intellectually and emotionally with the Anthropocene and about Roy’s recent cruise through the Northwest Passage.
Cultures of Energy Podcast is now on iTunes! Stitcher soon! We celebrate Anna Tsing, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz, one of the world’s greatest analysts of globalization and the environment and the author (most recently) of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Then (6:16) Cymene and Anna talk about feminist legacies, more-than-human anthropology, capitalist ruins and how to think with weeds and mushrooms.
Here's a little preview of the Cultures of Energy Podcast! Look for episodes on iTunes and Stitcher as soon as all the tubes get connected and all the magic podcast elves work through their holiday shopping. Cymene and Dominic answer the question ‘why do an energy humanities podcast?’ and confess their past radio sins. Then (9:14) Dominic interviews Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, about what science fiction can do in the era of climate change.