[-empyre-] Contamination, Toxic Assets, Hazardous Waste

Renate Ferro rferro at cornell.edu
Mon Nov 20 03:52:49 AEDT 2017

Sorry for the typos in my last two posts.  I’ve been writing from my phone
where the contamination of self-correcting software has been changing words
like wrote to wore.  This morning I am writing from my computer which also
had issues last week but I’m hoping that all of my technology is in sync
with my needs for now.

Just a quick interlude before I jump into our topic again. Where are you
-empyre- subscribers?  Please feel free to respond to our guests even if it
is with just a short sentence or two.  I think that we have to remind
ourselves that –empyre- soft-skinned space is a listserv and not a blog.
There can be multiple threads up for discussion at the same time and that
the posts and responses can be impromptu and fleeting. We have had a
relatively slow week but with the last day of Week 2 I wanted to give a bit
more of a background on my own thinking in relationship to what Bishnu,
Christina, and Tim have written over the past couple of days.

Contamination and toxicity are relatable concerns. Contamination suggests
slow seepage often times undiscernible.  As Marisa Tesauro and Catherine
Grau discussed in week one residual effects of contamination circulate
through our networked environment of bio-networks to language,
communication, and relationships, to governments and financial markets.
What are the discernable factors between contamination and toxicity?

Just a few weeks ago e-flux and Columbia University hosted a public seminar
and art events entitled Toxic Assets.


The weekend’s activities included cross-disciplinary performances in dance,
poetry, art installation with film screenings and seminar discussions.
These seminars and events responded to the question: “What would it take to
detox New York City?”

Inspired by the e-flux events I thought that our –empyre- soft-skinned
space subscribers might consider what it might take to detox beyond the
local to the global world of our own soft-skinned space.  With so many
subscribers in Australia, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America I
am wondering if we can think about considering the theoretical and actual
construct of the slow seepage of contamination and the everlasting effects
of toxicity.

Radioactive gas can be toxic to humans and animals as is still evidenced at
the Chornobyl Site in Russia. Webcams claim to give virtual web tours after
a web search of the area.  Insecticides can be detrimental to fish, wild
life and humans.  The Bhopal Disaster of 1984 at a Union Carbide plant in
India produced several pesticides that were toxic and flammable leading to
the deaths of 3000 people immediately and the many more who died years
later from its effects. Many of these chemicals can still be purchased in
local stores across the world despite the closing of the plant in Bhopal.

Biological viruses and disease such as Ebola most recently, was found to
infect West African citizens in 2014 caused by a virus protein the was
toxic to human cells.

Governments including the current President of the United States has been
characterized as toxic through harmful rhetoric, malicious intent, and
mean-spirited actions which have led to an environment of cynicism,
distrust, and disdain.

In financial circles a valued asset that has lost most of its wealth to the
point where it is worthless in trade is said to be toxic.

Hoping that over the remaining two weeks of our discussion we can flush out
the relationships between contamination and toxicity.  What effects to
hazardous waste have on conditions of contamination and toxicity?  What
conditions can bodies and environments flush out contamination, toxicity
and hazardous entities?

This past week Bishnu introduced her ideas of epidemic media in
relationship to living viruses and pathogens both actually and
conceptually.  Christina references Terra Nova and I presume you mean the
blogsite?  She reminds us about the epidemic media of “disease surveillance
networks” of new media.  Quite literally much of the new media work curated
in Tim’s C-Theory Multi-media site “Wired Ruins: Digital Terror and Ethnic
quite literally weaves the reactions to the ruins of contamination,
toxicity and terror to cultural and political landscape.

Inviting Bishnu, Christina, and Tim to make some final posts through the
Tomorrow morning, I will be introducing Week 3 guests as we continue to
deliberate and cleanse.

Best Wishes,
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