Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, staying with the trouble at Fukushima

In the space-time of environmental devastation announced by the Anthropocene, nuclear catastrophe is a type of “fuzzy boundaries trouble” that challenges our capacity for understanding. We know from Günther Anders that it operates in the supraliminary sphere, so large that it cannot be seen or imagined, which causes cognitive paralysis. By Ulrich Beck that produces an anthropological shock, the transformation of the consciousness of the subjects in relation to the experience of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of an invisible threat. By Svetlana Alexeivich that is characterized by vagueness and indefinition, which produces a war without enemies. And by Olga Kuchinskaya that generates a politics of invisibility regarding public knowledge of its consequences for life.

As Chernobyl before, the Fukushima disaster has reached the maximum level in the scale of accidents, when several nuclear reactors melted down 200 kilometers from the most populous metropolitan area of the planet. The dangerous radionuclides, once enclosed between concrete and steel walls, began to blend intimately with the biosphere. Before this mutant ecology, the artists have responded from the first moments. Through photography, guerrilla art, dance, video art or fiction narrative, this artistic response to the nuclear crisis has faced a double invisibility: the one of ionizing radiation and the institutional invisibility – the affirmation of the authorities that the problem “is under control”.

Taking as a theoretical framework the interdisciplinary discussion of the Anthropocene and its critical epistemologies, such Jason Moore’s Capitalocene and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, we investigate how artists are staying with the trouble in Fukushima. Recalibrating our sensory systems to adjust them to the contradiction and volatility of industrial advances, we explore the ability of art to construct an ontology complementary to hegemonic technoscience, one that allows us a more in-depth understanding of what nature and we humans has become in the Anthropocene.

DeSoto, P. Antropoceno, Capitaloceno, Chthuluceno, viviendo con el problema em Fukushima. PhD Thesis, Communication and Culture, School of Communication, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. Year: 2016

Related Publications:

DeSoto, P. Antropoceno, Capitaloceno, Chthuluceno, vivendo com o problema em Fukushima, en F. Borges (ed), TCNXMNSM (pp 22-31) Invisíveis Produções: São Paulo, Brazil.

Related work:

Artist in Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site.


Image credits aboved: “Under nuclear threat” by Luz Interruptus. Photo by Gustavo Sanabria.