Launching the EML and Heliotrope


Write toward the light.

Submit here:

The Environmental Media Lab (EML) at the University of Calgary is seeking submissions on a rolling basis for Heliotrope: Writing toward the light, a space for publishing short think-&-feel pieces. Heliotrope is a space for scholars and practitioners to explore and share your work — and to ask new questions.

The EML invites a wide range of submissions from anyone who studies topics at the intersection of:  1) media and technology 2) environmental humanities 3) special topics (currently: bioinformatics and genomics)

Submissions should be between 500 (min) and 1500 words (max). We also welcome accompanying video and audio pieces, although we do not currently have space to host them ourselves. Please get permission for your images as needed. We prefer that references be hyperlinked, but please also include citations at the end (in whatever style you prefer). We encourage you to end your piece with a set of questions, prompts, or provocations. Let us know if a component of this work is published elsewhere.

Environmental Media engages an array of media texts, discourses, and objects, to understand the mutual entanglements of media and environment. We look at documentary films and podcasts, media campaigns, advertisements, etc., to understand and analyze representations of naturecultures. We look at the lifecycle of our current global communications infrastructures, from mining rare earth minerals, imperialism and colonialism, e-waste, sensors and towers, data centers, the cloud, 5G, — to everything that connects the ‘wired’ world. We look globally at how ‘natural’ disasters, racism, pandemics, genomics, climate change, mass food systems, and pollution have become inscribed into the environment, and how nature itself becomes medium and message.

To launch Heliotrope, we welcome submissions that explore our special topic – bioinformatics and genomics – in unexpected and creative ways. Consider the idea of interludes—the moments in between, the pauses, the spaces of anticipation and hesitation, the creative and kinetic potential in the moments of stillness at the eye of a storm. Wanting just as much as our writers to embody practices of curiosity, generosity, and imagination, our editorial team is committed to providing constructive feedback to all submissions.

Accepted pieces will be published regularly and on a rolling basis, starting September 2020.

Write to Heliotrope’s co-editors, Mél Hogan, Crystal Chokshi and Tessa Brown, at

Publication: Politics of Withdrawal (Rowman and Littlefield)

Politics of Withdrawal

Media, Arts, Theory


Politics of Withdrawal considers the significance of practices and theories of withdrawal for radical thinking today. With contributions of major theorists in the fields of contemporary political philosophy, cultural studies and media studies, the chapters investigate the multiple contexts, possibilities and impasses of political withdrawal – from the radical to the seemingly mundane – and reflect a range of case studies varying from the political thinking of Debord, the Invisible Committee, Moten and Harney, feminist notions of ‘strike’ and ‘exit’, and indigenous forms of sabotage, to the individual retreat as means of reconfiguring political subjectivity. It looks at technological failure as disconnection from surveillance, and from alternative financial futures to contemporary ‘pharmako-politics.’

The volume provides a vital grip on a key notion in contemporary radical politics, in all its complexity, contradictions and tribulations. 



transmediale 2020, Berlin: Empires and Ecologies of the Cloud


Symposium: 28 Jan – 01 Mar, Berlin

The symposium of transmediale features two intensive days of in-depth exchange, screenings, performances, and artistic interventions. More than 50 artists and thinkers will examine networks as social, technological, and artistic infrastructures. Looking back at an era of network idealism, they will ask if the network is still a viable model to react to urgent challenges such as climate change and the consequences of artificial intelligence—and what a future after the network society might look like.


Exchange Session #2
Empires and Ecologies of the Cloud

Among others with Daphne Dragona, Mél Hogan, Ulises Ali Mejias


Do you care about the future of climate change in Calgary? Come join us and hear the Graduate College Scholars share their work! All Graduate Scholars are invited and encouraged to invite guests. Please ensure that all guests register. Seating is limited. A selection of gourmet treats and snacks will be provided! 


Event Schedule


Doors open, mingling 


Opening remarks 


Keynote- Dr. Mél Hogan


Speaker 1- Tessa Brown


Speaker 2- Emily Macphail


Speaker 3- Suzanne Chew


Speaker 4- Amy Spark


Q and A with all speakers


Concluding remarks

McLuhan Centre: “Hot Line, Cold Call” Nov 18, 2019

Join us for Hot Line, Cold Call with Yuri FuruhataMél Hogan, and Chris Russill. Our three speakers will try and cool us down with their hot take on Environmental Media. We’ll be talking about sweaty Zuckerberg, smart air-conditioning, site-specific weather control, and the geopolitics of planetary imaging.

Our annual theme, HotMessAge, addresses how media and technology are central to today’s pressing social, economic, and environmental situations. But media and technology are also part of forging new worlds while addressing these challenges.

This year at the McLuhan Cent

re for Culture and Technology we amplify some of the voices in Media Studies who offer hot takes with the cool possibilities of radical social change.


The “Monday Night Seminar” carries on the tradition of Marshall McLuhan’spublic seminars at the University of Toronto. All seminars take place within the same intimate Coach House setting where McLuhan once held court. In this up-close and personal environment, a range of thinkers – academics, activists, scientists, artists, designers and planners – will challenge prevailing cultural notions about technology and provoke new insight on the possibilities for a more equitable technological future. Join us!

Pic by Tanner Mirrlees
Pic by Tanner Mirrlees
Pic by Christine H. Tran
Pic by Christine H. Tran

Yuri Furuhata is associate professor in the Department of East Asian Studies and an associate member of the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. She works in the areas of film and media studies, architecture, visual arts, and critical theory. Her first book, Cinema of Actuality: Japanese Avant-Garde Filmmaking in the Season of Image Politics (Duke University Press, 2013), won the Best First Book Award from the Society of Cinema and Media Studies. She is currently working on a book, entitled Atmospheric Control: A Transpacific Genealogy of Climatic Media, which explores geopolitical connections across environmental art, weather control, climate engineering, and cybernetic architecture in Japan and the United States.

Mél Hogan is an Assistant Professor in the Communication, Media and Film Department and the Director of the Environmental Media Lab at the University of Calgary. Mél’s research focuses on the social implications and environmental impacts of server farms and data centers. Her recent focus lies at the intersection of genomics as it pertains to data storage and data imaginaries. Her work has been published in EphemeraFirst MondayTelevision and New MediaBig Data and SocietyCulture Machine, and the Canadian Journal of Communications, among others.

Chris Russill is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University, and editor of the Canadian Journal of Communication. He works on questions of media, technology and environmental crisis, with special attention to the intersections of media history, geopolitics, and the earth sciences. His current work explores how “the planetary” has emerged as an object of scientific inquiry, software design, visualization, political regulation and cultural interpretation, and how scientific conceptions of “the planetary” challenge the ecological, geographical and political frameworks that usually mediate our relationship to environmental crisis.

Continue reading “McLuhan Centre: “Hot Line, Cold Call” Nov 18, 2019″

Plenary “Genomics: Staking Identity since 2003” @ the University of Toronto



Friday, November 15, 2019
Jackman Humanities Building JHB100
170 St. George Street, Ground Floor 
Toronto, ON, Canada, M5R 2M8

A. Making ends meet – public keynote session 1:00PM to 2:40PM

  • Rena BivensSocial Media: Stalking identity since 1997
  • Mél HoganGenomics: Staking identity since 2003

B. Private ends – closed workshop 3:10PM to 4:40PM

  • Leslie Regan ShadeGetting to eQuality:What young people told us about privacy and equality in social media
  • Arun Jacob: Zuckerberg’s Perestroika. Facebook in the First Phase of Technologization of Trust
  • Aaron TuckerDiversity in Faces: IBM, Flickr, and the facial data as tactic of governmentality
  • Gemma Richardson: The ‘Pivot to Privacy”: How surveillance capitalism will survive and thrive 

C. Odds and ends – closed workshop 4:55PM to 6:25PM

  • Shirley RoburnSinging Plants and Speaking Trees: More-than-human social media
  • Brendan Smith: The Burnout Society on YouTube: Normalizing affective precarity in the digital environment
  • Tamara ShepherdBreaking up Is Impossible to Do: The perils of antitrust for platform capitalism 
  • Tanner MirrleesDigital Free Trade, Platform surveillance, network propaganda, and cyber-warfare

D. Loose ends – Closing Remarks 6:25PM to 6:30PM