Facing Depletion. Artworks for an Epistemological Shift in the Collapse Era


  • Damien Beyrouthy Aix-Marseille Université




David Claerbout, Emilio Vavarella, contemporary art, collapse era, smart devices, epistemological shift


This article first reports a victory of technosolutionism over the other alternatives to the ongoing collapse (species extinction, ecosystems depletion...). The victory is considered double: extraction can continue to increase (quantity and scope) and the devices made by technoscience are accepted as a solution to the problems caused by intensive exploitation (which they also require). Exploitation is extended, following Achille Mbembé's proposal, to humans, non-human animals, and the earth (in a geological sense), retaining the terms fracturing, extraction, depletion. Four works are analyzed as epistemological shifts to technosolutionism. David Claerbout's The Pure Necessity (2016) is an animated cartoon of animals with a streamlined behavior depicted with the graphic style of Disney. The complex interlocking of eras, styles, behaviors (human and non-human) is envi-saged as resistance to fracking and exploitation. Animal Cinema (2017) by Emilio Vavarella is a short film made from rushes produced by non-human animals. It is emphasized that the frugal production method opposes the spectacular logics of big-budget animal reporting. It adopts the animal point of view while respecting their means of production. It is also seductive by a fluid and hypnotizing editing more easily accessible to humans. Emilio Vavarella's Amazon's Cabinet of Curiosity (2019) is an installation with a strict protocol: the artist asks what he should order to make an artistic production. He then buys each suggestion until his budget is exhausted. By its absence, the commercial behavior of the so-called intelligent device is underlined. The artist also resists fracturing and exploitation by reducing himself to a demand. Finally, She Was Called Petra (2020) by myself is a multi-media installation. In this one, language is re-interrogated and a zone of contact/exchange is set up to cohabit with and think a hybrid presence.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Damien Beyrouthy, Aix-Marseille Université

Damien Beyrouthy is an artist-researcher in Media and Digital Arts. He is a lecturer at the University of Aix-Marseille and a member of LESA (Laboratoire d'études en sciences des arts). In his research-creation, he is interested in cohabiting with images, using devices and dealing with their traces. This research-creation leads him to regularly communicate, publish and exhibit (videos, installations and digital productions) in France and abroad.






Articles: Contemporary Collapse: New Narratives of the End