This week I had the chance to participate in my first nearly-carbon neutral conference run out of UC Santa Barbara. I presented a version of my extended critical nonfiction storytelling that explores the geological work of David Haines and Joyce Hinterding. I recorded a video lecture, and enjoyed the process of sharing asynchronous texts and conversations over the weeks of the conference. In the end though it remained a frustrating experience.

To think and work properly together I need to be in the same room with people – either in time or place. Some of my best co-writing has occurred simultaneously over the screen, but for thoughtful conversation, I still value face-to-face time. However, because this was the year I decided to not fly for work, this did give me the opportunity to test out this project in a different forum.

June 14-30, 2018
Sponsored by ASLE and UC Santa Barbara


In Christchurch New Zealand in September 2010 the earth gave one of its necessary shudders.  As the energy shock reached a peak ground acceleration of 2.2G many of us could not help but pay attention. Amidst the long sequence of aftershocks, Australian artists David Haines and Joyce Hinterding made recordings of the earth as it settled into a pattern of movement. In the interactive installation Geology (2015) Haines and Hinterding use these recordings to offer a sublime immersion in a dynamic land formed by relations between humans, our living systems, and the planet. In the interactive world of Geology (2015) dimensionality and duration determine how we conduct ourselves. In a Kinect space delineated by geometry and motion our body hits the screen and we are in. Reminding us that all geology, all matter requires witnessing of some kind. Earthquakes are natural circuits of release, their impacts last on in our bodies through what New Zealand media theorist Zita Joyce calls “body energies” where the residual energy of the earthquake becomes an affective way of knowing a place.  Haines and Hinterding entice us to use our bodies to navigate through a ecomedia world made both familiar and abstract. This world-building is perfectly natural; as if we are inhabiting the drawings that map the underground worlds explored by Athanasius Kircher in Mundus Subterraneus we sense the humming energy of the rocks. There is a third layer to the work. A third world hovering on top of its antipodes. It seems to be an unstable world of timber, shaken and fractured. We suddenly inhabit the perspective of the rock, no longer a human sized body we slam ourselves against the edges. We rain down on the timber, the geometries resist and shatter. We are inside and back out. The energy folds and creases across the land and we are floating, witnessing a beautiful collapse. This video essay suggests that for Haines and Hinterding living amidst the media geologies of the Anthropocene is just the beginning.