Finite Media

Environmental Implications of Digital Technologies

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 2 illustrations Published: December 2016

Author: Sean Cubitt

Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Media Studies > Media Technologies

While digital media give us the ability to communicate with and know the world, their use comes at the expense of an immense ecological footprint and environmental degradation. In Finite Media Sean Cubitt offers a large-scale rethinking of theories of mediation by examining the environmental and human toll exacted by mining and the manufacture, use, and disposal of millions of phones, computers, and other devices. The way out is through an eco-political media aesthetics, in which people use media to shift their relationship to the environment and where public goods and spaces are available to all. Cubitt demonstrates this through case studies ranging from the 1906 film The Story of the Kelly Gang to an image of Saturn taken during NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission, suggesting that affective responses to images may generate a populist environmental politics that demands better ways of living and being. Only by reorienting our use of media, Cubitt contends, can we overcome the failures of political elites and the ravages of capital.


"This insightful book is replete with illuminating examples and case studies, with subtle arguments that will likely prove prescient in years to come." — Niall Flynn, LSE Review of Books

"[T]he author provides an interdisciplinary theoretical framework from which to study the important questions of environmental policy in the 21st century. Recommended." — M. A. Mueller, Choice

"Filled with cases of environment changes of contemporary age, Cubitt approaches the topic with journalistic clarity and deep comparative activist source-data, uncovering various types of criminal activities that he grounds with many background theories. . . . Similar to previous books, Finite Media is a rather short (and concentrated) reading, with an even lighter style that makes reading a very pleasurable experience." — Ana Peraica, Leonardo Reviews

"Sean Cubitt’s Finite Media is so much more than the title suggests: it is a meticulously researched and thoughtful intervention into the linkages between digital media and environmental degradation." — Sandra Robinson, Theory, Culture & Society

"Sean Cubitt has accomplished an astonishing feat of synthesis, reading across fields as varied as waste management, fiber-optic cable installation, semiocapitalism, and net neutrality. His wide-ranging and remarkable project extends beyond the reach of infrastructure media studies to show how global capitalism is remaking the planet in its own image. An innovative and dynamic book." — Nicholas Mirzoeff, author of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

"Sean Cubitt offers the first theoretical analysis of how ecology in its original sense (and its related concerns for climate change and the environment) can not only inform media studies, but change what media we create and how we create it. Unique in its broad philosophical and social science perspective and full of fresh, original, and timely insights, Finite Media will find eager audiences in media studies, science and technology studies, and related fields." — Lev Manovich, author of Software Takes Command


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Sean Cubitt is Professor of Film and Television, Goldsmiths, University of London, and the author of several books, most recently, The Practice of Light: A Genealogy of Visual Technologies from Prints to Pixels.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction. Eco-mediation  1

1. Energy  13

2. Matter  63

3. Eco-political Aesthetics  151

4. Ecological Communication as Politics  169

Coda on Saturn  193

References  201

Index  237
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6292-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6281-4