THE ANTHROPOCENE SLAM: A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES NOVEMBER 8-10

WISCONSIN INSTITUTES FOR DISCOVERY DELUCA FORUM MADISON

DEEPWATER HORIZON FEED

photo of an underwater oil spill

The remarkable technology that brings us consistent energy from petroleum also brought us the first "live video feed" of the hemorrhaging Deepwater Horizon petroleum well during the Summer of 2010. A still image of this feed merits a place in the "Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam" because of the essential connections that it provides for each viewer to the basic priorities that have governed this era. With neither narrative nor drama, the live video feed, never deviating from its constricted focus on the wellhead, merely suggested these larger implications of the BP Oil Spill of 2010. In a related narrative, many of us followed the surface implications through other news reports. Normally, this would be our only view of such events. The live video feed provided a unique continuity to the story of the BP Oil Spill-- cause and effect. In the viewfinder, iIlegible words and numbers were the only additional details one could observe, giving the live video feed a suggestion of scientific veracity—as if generated by a laboratory's measuring device. Or, to many viewers, the numbers and gauge readings provide the appearance of outer space or a scene from a science fiction film. Its main purpose was exactly the opposite, though; the live video feed depicted the spill's veracity and proximity Although some will argue that our response to the actual 2010 spill has been a disappointment, the image of the live feed attacked our cultural norms in important ways, including our ideas of time, agency, and intergenerational equity. I look forward to the opportunity to bring this perspective to your fascinating conference.

Presenter