Reading Environments: The Chernobyl Herbarium: Fragments of an Exploded Consciousness

Image by Georg Herman, 'Small Motifs of Insects and Plants' (1596) via The MET
Tuesday 15 May 2018
4.00 -6.00pm

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MECO S226 seminar room
Woolley Building | Manning Road
University of Sydney


Reading Environments is a new series of gatherings sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute and open to staff and students from across the University of Sydney.

Our common focus is the developing, diversified, and interdisciplinary field of the Environmental Humanities. Key concerns will be drawn from environmentally-engaged philosophy, art, literature, history, and so forth. Exemplary topics may include cultures of climate change; bioethics; animals; nonhuman temporalities; ecology and biodiversity; posthumanism; planetarity; etc.

In our first term, we will sample a variety of works – academic and otherwise – that represent significant, but by no means exhaustive, features and futures of the field. Future selections will reflect the interests of salon members. Our method will encompass readings, structured discussions, free conversations, field trips, and other endeavours besides. Our materials will be drawn from sources critical and creative; textual and ephemeral; visual and other-sensory.

This month’s material:

Michael Marder & Anaïs Tondeur – The Chernobyl Herbarium: Fragments of an Exploded Consciousness (Open Humanities 2016)

This formally ambitious work gathers thirty “fragments” – text and image – generated, so to speak, by the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. These fragments analogize “an exploded consciousness,” a term that reflects both the disorienting and disempowering consequences of disaster and the potential to “think the unthinkable and represent the unrepresentable.”

Elizabeth Povinelli & Peter Cho – Digital Futures 

Elizabeth Povinelli & Peter Cho’s Digital Futures  expresses an awareness of the ways that archives pertaining to indigenous and other communities have sometimes reproduced colonial power, and indeed colonial violence. Digital Futures attempts something different, choosing not to make archival information “immediately available to the user; rather, it unfolds piece by piece, asking that the user undertake a principled engagement with representations of lived spaces and embodied histories.”

For more information contact: killian.quigley@sydney.edu.au