Worrying times: new image ecologies

SEI’s 2021-22 Environmental Humanities Visiting Fellow, Jennifer Deger, experiments with the power of images to tell new kinds of environmental stories.

How might digital screens—and the relational dynamics that they enable—help us to attend more closely to more-than-human worlds riven by loss? How, in the face of devastation, might images be used to hold space for something more complex and generative than sheer sorrow? How, indeed, might images help us to cultivate the now never-more-urgent art of not turning away?

In this seminar, the Sydney Environment Institute's 2021-22 Environmental Humanities Visiting Fellow Jennifer Deger will introduce two digital collaborations that attempt to answer these questions, using digital media to orchestrate and mobilise new, affectively-charged constellations of connection: Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene(Stanford University Press, 2020) and Phone & Spear: a Yuta Anthropology (Miyarrka Media, Goldsmiths Press 2019).

This event was present online on 19 October 2022. 


Jennifer Deger is Professor of Digital Humanities at the Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University and co-founder of Miyarrka Media, an arts collective based in east Arnhem Land. Her research career has been supported by a number of fellowships including a Macquarie University Research Fellowship, an ARC Post-doc and Future Fellowship, and visiting fellowships including the Centre for Religion and Media, New York University, The Eye & Mind Lab, Aarhus University, and Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene (AURA). Her recent work includes Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene (Tsing, Anna L., Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman Saxena and Feifei Zhou, Stanford University Press) which she co-curated for exhibition at the Istanbul Biennial The Seventh Continent and the Sharjah Architecture Triennial Rights of Future Generations in 2019 with Victoria Baskin Coffey. Alongside long-time collaborator Paul Gurrumuruwuy, Jennifer has made a number of films including Manapanmirr, in Christmas Spirit (2012) and Ringtone(2014) and curated exhibitions in the USA, Taiwan, Denmark and Australia. In 2020 Miyarrka Media’s Phone & Spear: a Yuta Anthropology won the Gregory Bateson Book Prize from the US Society for Cultural Anthropology and the AAANZ Best Artist-led Publication. The collective’s new ARC-funded project Rangingur: a Yolngu digital art of renewalcontinues their shared exploration of entangled digital and environmental ecologies.

Thom van Dooren is Associate Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2017-2021) in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. His research and writing focus on some of the many philosophical, ethical, cultural, and political issues that arise in the context of species extinctions and human entanglements with threatened species and places. He is the author of The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds (Columbia, 2019), and co-editor of Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations (Columbia, 2017).

Header image: from Making Worlds Otherwise, courtesy of Miyarrka Media.