Greenhough B, Lorimer J and Yusoff K 2015 FF: “Future Fossils” Exhibition

(Image: Kathryn Yusoff, 2013)

(Image: Kathryn Yusoff, 2013)

Future Fossils? Specimens from the 5th millennium ‘Return to Earth’ expedition

One of the key challenges posed by the Anthropocene concept is that it forces us to engage with both an entangled present and its uncertain futures. While seemingly anthropocentric (in its claim that the influence of humanity is all pervasive), the idea of an Anthropocene highlights how the non-human and inhuman world is firmly embedded within and through us. How will future generations of lively entities differentiate between human and other species, their forms of knowledge-making, space-marking and relations to broader geomorphological, biological, socio-economic processes? The Anthropocene provides a provocation to think life differently and to make prominent the geo-politics of an epochal event, whose present and future telling offers opportunities for alternative ways of writing the Earth.

So, imagine it is the year 5000AD. A group of future earth-writers convene an exhibition of specimens from their recent Earth expedition, dating from the period informally known as the Anthropocene. What messages would these remnants of our contemporary age convey? What fragments of material practices would survive? How will current human and non-human relations imprint their legacies into geological, biological, social, atmospheric and virtual strata? What sense might distant future critters make of our stratigraphic legacy? How might the research preoccupations and contestations of the present endure in the fossil record and what we might learn from that tenacity?

Beth Greenhough, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Jamie Lorimer, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Kathryn Yusoff, School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London, UK

In this forum, we invited contributors to speculate on “future fossils” and reflect on the process of speculation itself as a mode of engagement (click through on each tab to find out more about each exhibit).

FF1: “ACA/GEO/21/CONF/2015/TEMPORAL ANXIETY/BG-JL-KY/FF” By Franklin Ginn and Jacob Barber

FF1: "ACA/GEO/21/IBG/CONF/2015/TEMPORAL-ANXIETY/BG-JL-KY/FF" by Franklin Ginn and Jacob Barber

FF1: “ACA/GEO/21/IBG/CONF/2015/TEMPORAL-ANXIETY/BG-JL-KY/FF” by Franklin Ginn and Jacob Barber

FF2: “Millennium Microbe” By Maria Fannin

FF2: 5th Millennium Microbe by Maria Fannin (Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/photo by John T. Lisle)

FF2: 5th Millennium Microbe by Maria Fannin (Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/photo by John T. Lisle)

FF3: “Tracing Uneven Geology” By Jeremy Bolen, Sara H. Nelson and Emily E. Scott

FF3: “Tracing Uneven Geology: Ghostly Fossils from the Early Anthropocene" by Jeremy Bolen, Sara Holiday Nelson, and Emily Eliza Scott (c. 5000 AD)

FF3: “Tracing Uneven Geology: Ghostly Fossils from the Early Anthropocene” by Jeremy Bolen, Sara Holiday Nelson, and Emily Eliza Scott (c. 5000 AD)

FF4: “Matrimandir, Auroville” By Tariq Jazeel

FF4: "Matrimandir, Auroville" by Tariq Jazeel

FF4: “Matrimandir, Auroville” by Tariq Jazeel

FF5: “Specimen 0198: Cargotecture” By Ella Harris

FF5: "Specimen 0198: Cargotecture" by Ella Harris

FF5: “Specimen 0198: Cargotecture” by Ella Harris

FF6: “Atypical Situation” By Hayden Lorimer

 FF6: "Atypical Situation" by Hayden Lorimer

FF6: “Atypical Situation” by Hayden Lorimer

FF7: “Trace Fossil FOBU-1379” By Helen Pritchard

FF7: "Trace fossil FOBU-1379" by Helen Pritchard

FF7: “Trace fossil FOBU-1379” by Helen Pritchard

FF8: “The Pacemaker” By Andrew Dwyer

FF8: "The Pacemaker: Tracing cyber (re)territorialisations" by Andrew Dwyer

FF8: “The Pacemaker: Tracing cyber (re)territorialisations” by Andrew Dwyer

FF9: “Atomic Age Rodent” By Dominic Walker

FF9: "Atomic Age Rodents: in search of the first animals of the Anthropocene" by Dominic Walker (© Center for PostNatural History, 2011)

FF9: “Atomic Age Rodents: in search of the first animals of the
Anthropocene” by Dominic Walker (© Center for PostNatural History, 2011)

FF10: Slum archaeology 5000AD by Colin McFarlane

FF10: Slum archaeology 5000AD by Colin McFarlane

FF10: Slum archaeology 5000AD by Colin McFarlane

FF11: “Body Bags: The politics of sealing off in the Anthropocene” by Uli Beisel

FF11: Body Bags: The politics of sealing off in the Anthropocene" by Uli Beisel Sealed in a body bag, the deceased is carried out on a stretcher and added to the other bodies in the pick-up truck, waiting to be driven to the King Tom cemetery. ©EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie

FF11: Body Bags: The politics of sealing off in the Anthropocene” by Uli Beisel (©EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie)

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