Performing the Electrical, Or My Heart is an Electromagnetic Chamber
No one would deny that energy forms a critical aspect of human history and contemporary sociopolitical landscapes, from burning wood to harnessing the power of water, wind, solar, fossil fuels and atomic reaction. Access to reliable energy sources is directly related to concentrations of wealth and notions of “development” and “progress.” So that the legacy of energy dependency is not only deeply entwined in concepts of modernity and futurity, but has also played a dominant role in our current climate crisis. Today, as electric transportation, advanced battery technology, and mass digital communication are diversifying and increasing energy needs, questions of “electric sustainability” are critical. My doctoral dissertation, Performing the Electrical, examines the ways electricity (as one form of energy production) performs in nature and in our imaginations, in order to shed new light on the relationships between Earth-health and how we perceive energy, in which electricity is a through line into future energy relationships. My research asks, how can performing electricity differently (both in our imaginations and our quotidian interactions) change the ways that we produce and consume energy specifically in the context of the Capitlalocene, Plasticine, and Anthropocene? And how can practice-as-research and event making contribute new knowledge to the emergent field of energy humanities? I argue that encountering alternative possibilities of electrical energy through material storytelling is a crucial component for communicating and understanding our current environmental precarity formed around energy consumption.