The discourses about the consequences of industrialization for the climate and the planet in general have left us facing profound questions about our future as a species. Is climate change our doing? Will we be able to turn the development around to avoid massive catastrophes and conflicts? How long will we be here? Should we be here at all? News reports of floods, hurricanes, fires, and droughts spur discourses that are highly emotional and charged with feelings such as fear, nostalgia, guilt, and sadness.
In the fall of 2019 I will edit a special issue of the peer reviewed online journal Arts. This Special Issue focuses on the way emotional aspects of climate change and the role of humans in this context have been represented in the visual culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. The theories about the time we live in, termed the “Anthropocene”, the “capitalocene”, or the “chthulucene”, have all posed questions about the future of mankind and our position in relation to the rest of planet Earth. Climate change discourses have positioned humans as both victims and perpetrators and have ignited a complex emotional field that is explored and interpreted from numerous angles within the visual culture. Theorists from various fields—such as Ian Hodder (2012), Bruno Latour (2017), and Jane Bennett (2010)—have argued that we need to approach our current situation by looking at it as a complex network and a combination of processes of interdependence—of entanglement between things, animals, other biological beings, biospheres, and economic frameworks of inequality. The question of what a human is and can be is increasingly being explored through non-anthropocentric optics, and simpler notions of subject–object relationality are often rejected in the theory and in the field of visual culture. Hodder has stated that it may be our fundamental entanglement with things and technologies that makes it so difficult to deal with climate change (2012). However, human representations of our place in the world is still an important optic through which we can seek to understand how we make sense of our relations, limitations, and options. The languages of the aesthetic fields of photography, comics, movies, and other visual media leave room for ambivalence and complexities—as well as for the unspeakable—elements that are important aspects of the way we experience our (new) relationship with our surroundings.
Please consult the website of the CFP for further information. The deadline for proposed articles is August 23 2019.