“Like Watching a Movie”: Notes on the Possibilities of Art in the Anthropocene
This chapter highlights a central problem of representation within the Anthropocene: the difficulty of representing the effects of human activity on the planet. Such impacts take place at temporal and physical scales that challenge human perception: the slow leeching and accretion of toxins invisible to the human eye, the gradual accumulation of micro-fibers and plastics in oceans and beaches, the species die-offs of the Sixth Extinction, shifts in climate, weather patterns, and other global systems, and so on. These incremental changes remain largely invisible to the general population, due in part to our increasingly spectacular media landscapes. Drawing on the work of Rob Nixon, we examine one example of Anthropogenic violence—the largest natural disaster in Canada’s history, a forest fire in the northern Albertan city of Fort McMurray—for the ways it became framed as a cinematic event, short-lived, contained, and divorced from its context within a warming climate.
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