A Geology of Media

A Geology of Media

Jussi Parikka

A sweeping new ecological take on technology

224 Pages, 6 x 9 in



A Geology of Media

Series: Electronic Mediations

Jussi Parikka

ISBN: 9780816695522

Publication date: March 27th, 2015

224 Pages


8 x 5

"Jussi Parikka’s A Geology of Media really expands what media theory can do. The materiality of media is no longer restricted to questions of economies or technics but extends all the way to its molecular composition. It connects the fast calculations of digital time to the deepest of temporalities, that of the earth itself. An essential contribution to a media theory for the Anthropocene."—McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red

"A Geology of Media does not complete or close down an area of research, but rather opens one up. This book is vital to any continuing consideration of media today."—Steven Shaviro, author of The Universe of Things: On Speculative Realism

"A powerful, illuminating, passionate book rewriting the history and future of media from a much needed materialist perspective."—Theory, Culture & Society

"Parikka prods us to think big, to get past our primordial inhibitions, to look beyond mass media consumerism."—Furtherfield

"Parikka’s book offers refreshing insights into the materiality of digital technologies - that have radically changed cinema too - and can make us place past and theoretical debates into the present."—New Review in Film and Television Studies

"Parikka points readers toward a more expansive media theory in ways that no other researcher has."—CHOICE

"A satisfying and challenging book."—boundary 2

"Parikka’s invaluable book will prompt a myriad of important conversations within his discipline over the nature of media and technology."—The New Inquiry

"A Geology of Media offers a greatly expanded definition of media materialism, productively redefines the scope of media archaeology, and nuances the discourse of ecocritical media theory with its emphasis on the importance of the nonorganic world."—Afterimage

"With A Geology of New Media, Parikka not only expands and vitalizes the fields of media theory and media history, he also forces the humanities at large to rethink its methods and objectives."—Spheres

"A Geology of Media is an excellent book, which mixes cultural theory and history with geological science and contemporary art."—The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory

"Radical in its far-reaching and interdisciplinary approach, and welcome for being so, the scope of A Geology of Media reflects its topical intricacy whilst reshaping the arenas of discourse in which interrogations of an evolving, non-discrete, complex of media cultures can take place."—TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies

"A provocative book that succeeds in proposing a potentially vast field of study."—Early Popular Visual Culture

"A Geology of Media provides rich theoretic interventions and examples that expand on the increasing scholarship on the Anthropocene, materiality, and waste."—Cultural Geographies

" A welcome contribution to this relevant area of study."—Prabuddha Bharata

"Jussi Parikka deeply has examined the rawest matter of media."—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

"In A Geology of Media, Jussia Parikka offers a refreshingly raw materiality approach to media studies." —Culture Machine

Media history is millions, even billions, of years old. That is the premise of this pioneering and provocative book, which argues that to adequately understand contemporary media culture we must set out from material realities that precede media themselves—Earth’s history, geological formations, minerals, and energy. And to do so, writes Jussi Parikka, is to confront the profound environmental and social implications of this ubiquitous, but hardly ephemeral, realm of modern-day life.

Exploring the resource depletion and material resourcing required for us to use our devices to live networked lives, Parikka grounds his analysis in Siegfried Zielinski’s widely discussed notion of deep time—but takes it back millennia. Not only are rare earth minerals and many other materials needed to make our digital media machines work, he observes, but used and obsolete media technologies return to the earth as residue of digital culture, contributing to growing layers of toxic waste for future archaeologists to ponder. He shows that these materials must be considered alongside the often dangerous and exploitative labor processes that refine them into the devices underlying our seemingly virtual or immaterial practices.

A Geology of Media demonstrates that the environment does not just surround our media cultural world—it runs through it, enables it, and hosts it in an era of unprecedented climate change. While looking backward to Earth’s distant past, it also looks forward to a more expansive media theory—and, implicitly, media activism—to come.

Jussi Parikka is professor in technological culture and aesthetics at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. He is the author of Insect Media (Minnesota, 2010), Digital Contagions, and What Is Media Archaeology?


1. Materiality: Grounds of Media and Culture
2. An Alternative Deep Time of the Media
3. Psychogeophysics of Technology
4. Dust and the Exhausted Life
5. Fossil Futures
Afterword: So-Called Nature
Appendix. Zombie Media: Circuit Bending Media Archaeology into an Art Method
Garnet Hertz and Jussi Parikka