The Anthropocene demands new concepts of scale for social, cultural, and aesthetic theory. The first concept of scale critique is scale variance, which means that variable physical constraints produce disjunctures among scales. This article explicates this concept in a reading of Ray Eames and Charles Eames’s animation Powers of Ten, drawing on examples from biology, ecology, and engineering. Scale variance is the opposite of fractal self-similarity and the smooth zoom effect apparent in Powers of Ten. Scale critique shows that the “human species” is not the subject of the Anthropocene. Smoothly scaled concepts of the human install a nature/culture opposition that mystifies the causes of climate change, centering them in the figure of “the species.” A scale-critical narrative of the Anthropocene points to terraforming assemblages of humans, nonhuman species, and technical systems.
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Derek Woods; Scale Critique for the Anthropocene. the minnesota review 1 November 2014; 2014 (83): 133–142. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-2782327
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