Addressing Significant Societal Challenges Through Critical Digital Media
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionElectronic Book Review (EBR). 2020. https://doi.org/10.7273/1ma1-pk87
Just as novels, beyond their aesthetic and entertainment value, have always served as reflections of the cultural values, political debates, and societal challenges of the time in which they were produced, contemporary electronic literature and media art are providing us with new toolsets for processing the significant shifts, from the digital turn to the Anthropocene mass extinction, that are defining our contemporary society and our relation to the planet. This is not to argue for a purely utilitarian approach to artistic production: indeed, artworks that are conceived first and foremost as the communication of scientific research or as ideological statements tend to fall flat. We argue instead that great stories and affective artworks tend to arise from human struggles with great challenges. There seems little point in continuing to produce reams of fiction focused on marital conflicts or family struggles in middle-class households when the sea level is rising at such a rapid rate that many of the homes in which such domestic dramas occur will be underwater before any generational shift can take place. We might take it as a truism that in the near future, virtually all fiction will be ecological fiction, by default. Our collaborative works, which we will discuss below, are driven by an awareness that we occupy a zone of contemporary crisis which is no longer avoidable. Zones of contemporary crisis are not only where artworks can have significant societal impacts: they are also where some of the most urgent and compelling story material will be found.