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by Dennis Dizon

Toward an Ecological Singularity

My historical connection with the climate began with a delusion. In Manila, where I grew up, the summer monsoon season, or habagat, was a period of mild catastrophe. In the barangay (“small village” in Tagalog-speak) where my family lived, buildings and houses were densely packed together, all seemingly constructed in materials that were never damage-proof in extreme weather. So, at the beginning of a typhoon—the quiet before a tropical storm—there was always an ambivalent waiting for the chaos that would ensue. When the dark clouds loomed and the strong winds rattled, loose corrugated iron roofs flew, metal gates slammed, and wooden beams snapped into two.

Heavy flooding was not unusual in the streets, which could be knee-, waist-, or chest-deep; the urban ecosystem, quickly revealing itself as unidentifiable critters from the gutter scampered up and out of the sewers. Yet, as the rain plummeted and the murky sewage water-level rose, it was not ambivalence, but rather an anticipation to swim that occupied me. During the occasional wandering wade through the flooded streets, as drops of rain touched my bare skin, I convinced myself that I was in a swimming pool, splashing, kicking, and dipping in its cool waters.

Until the stench became unbearable.

Reign in your imagination for a second: I was not hallucinating. I did not throw on goggles or put on swim shorts, nor was I doing backstrokes and butterflies in these floods. It was common for the flood to have entered people’s homes, so by the end of the storm, when the water-level receded, we would brush the floors dry and rearrange any furniture, awaiting the next big one in the climate loop. And if at all explicable, the delusion from my experience was a necessary way of coping. Barely discerning my distorted reflection on the flood’s surface, the delusion was a moment of desire to normalize the anxieties of the situation from the imposed ecological conditions, internalizing a masterful taming of a pandemonium into a performative imaginary.

Pointedly caused by a combination of rapid industrialization and unusually heavy rainfall, there exists a combination of widespread oblivion and increased tension in the multidimensionality of the flooding problem that cannot be tackled easily. The tropical climate (a monsoon), or natural weather events (typhoons), mixed with a convolution of infrastructural factors, including but not limited to urban planning, bureaucracy, and policy, impact the population’s living conditions. According to local civil engineers, the unabated disposal of garbage and waste in waterways only exacerbates the rise of residential displacements, disease epidemics, and deaths; the engineers, “[appealing] to the public to exercise their sense of patriotism… [and follow] the city’s waste-segregation scheme.”[1]

The climate crisis is a deafening analogy for (and big factor in) the heavy flooding dilemma in Manila. Globally, compelling evidence about climate change continues to unfold, proving rapid temperature increases, warming oceans, melting ice sheets, glacial retreats, and rising sea levels, only to name a few.[2] Since the mid-20th century, a combination of factors that expand the “greenhouse effect” is attributed to global heating (intensified by human production of greenhouse gases).[3] And though evidence of accelerated changes in the climate exist, there are still tensions when communicating about the climate crisis that displace accountability, perpetuate false beliefs, facilitate skepticism, or forge delusions.

In a December 2018 poll on global warming from a Climate Change Communication program at Yale University, results showed that 73% of Americans think that global warming is happening—51% of whom are “extremely” or “very” sure—with more than 60% understanding that global warming is “mostly human-caused.” About 69% of Americans are “somewhat worried” about global warming, 14% think it’s too late to take action, and 28% say that global warming is either “not too” or “not at all” personally important. Yet, despite available proof, there continues to be an ambivalence in the cultural response toward global warming (and climate change). If 73% of Americans think that global warming is happening, what do the remaining 27% believe? Why do the 69% doubt their worry?[4]

The concept of communication continues to transform; its structures and processes are tipping toward failure. Communication is at stake. Over time, the rapid unfolding of an ecological crisis and the mutation of information have converged, creating an ecology of communication that operates in delusion. Sure, it seems extreme to infer this, but arguably, our implication in the neoliberalist, dominant, masculine, hegemonic systems of communicating bind agency suspended in erratic logic. So, if communication now functions in delusion, what better way out than through it?

Surpassing its clinical definition, the concept of delusion, as was activated in the story above, becomes an emergent space for tactical exploitation. As an ongoing critical inquiry into a queer techno-ecological (in research, through writing and with curatorial practice), I propose re-imagining the potential of communicating through difference, destabilizing existing logics through queer sensibilities—among humans, with nonhumans. Practicing thought-queering as a tactical exploitation of delusion, I visualize communication as a trip toward an ecological singularity—not a journey per se but as a navigable emergence through imaginary and bodily excess—largely inspired by queer and feminist thinkers, including Karen Barad’s call for “materializing practices of differentiating.”[5] At the cross-sections of interiority-exteriority and aesthetics-politics, I (1) introduce communication as infrastructure, mapping existing pathways for the possibilities beyond a linear transmission of information, (2) analyze communicating as matter-ing, designating a direction for materializing difference between object and thing, and (3) arrive at the concept of an “ecological singularity” as an experimental and experiential re-positioning to decentralize self and transcend human exceptionalism.

This text does not attempt to solve the climate crisis. Instead, it interrogates the existing ecology of communication: an era of manufactured delusions that depoliticize the dimensions of the climate crisis, markedly dispersing fears and anxieties; an expanse of networked oblivion to the normalization of its financialization; a condition of stealth violence from the institutional displacement of accountability onto the individual and the injustices toward the Global South. This text does not attempt to solve the climate crisis, but instead, traces tensions and surveys a turbulence when communicating about it in the historical present. This text does not attempt to solve the climate crisis, because I have no solution. Beyond a cultural and environmental diagnosis, I only have enough nerve to challenge existing constructs and systems of failing logic—thinking through them—toward a belief that a new ecology of communication, in a culture of delusion, is still possible.


In 2014, CarbonStory, a climate change crowdfunding platform, in collaboration with two marketing agencies (BBDO and Proximity Singapore), created the World Under Water campaign (now defunct), which was an interactive web experience that showed what places would look like if submerged under six feet of water. Using Web Graphics Library (WebGL) and Google Street View, users could type any location, neighborhood, or famous landmark and “see the extreme effect of climate change” through flooding. When one typed “Times Square” in New York or “Westminster” in London, for example, the platform showed animated visualizations of the respective post-apocalyptic cities under water.[6]

CarbonStory (also now defunct) operated between 2013 and 2017 in Southeast Asia, leveraging gamification and social media with an aim for crowdfunders to “neutralize [...] carbon footprints by sponsoring [for less than a dollar per day or a few dollars per month] certified green projects that have been carefully selected.”[7] The group designed an online user platform for “an awesome experience,” incentivizing sponsorships with personal and customized rewards, such as online badges and printable certificates. Summarizing the outcome of their work, CarbonStory claimed that the platform “allowed users to offset their climate impact without doing anything radical to their lifestyles.”[8]


See the problem here?

When communicating about climate change (as a “crisis,” especially), it is necessary to address that communication is not merely a linear transfer of information. Beyond an oversimplification of the climate crisis in CarbonStory’s proposal and the World Under Water campaign, the problem is rather a failure to recognize the potential of the problematic. While there appears to be a seemingly “good” intention to the project, communicating about climate change was reduced to a transfer of information (via capital) that stretched agency to a binary positioning (participation/non-participation), setting aside the ontological complexity and multidimensionality of a crisis.

While information transmission is an entry point into the concept of communication, an analysis of communication as “infrastructure” distinguishes its concept as a matter of mediation. Following one of Keller Easterling’s assessments of “infrastructure space” as a “medium of information,” communication as infrastructure hosts information “in invisible [...] activities that determine how objects and content are organized and circulated.”[9] Understanding communication as infrastructure is a mapping of the system of relations among actors (human and nonhuman). As infrastructure, communication is the mediation of an assemblage of information and meaning that either instrumentalize as interest or materialize as difference.

If mediation is constituted as instrumentalization, communication can be paradoxical, making the space for matter-ing—of moving, of forming, of materializing difference—vulnerable to obstructions of interest. Communicating functions under a set of protocols based on a logic of rules and order that facilitate and/or block movements in mediating. In a 2004 essay titled, “Communication beyond Meaning: On the Cultural Politics of Information,” theorist and critic Tiziana Terranova states that information dynamics are “increasingly gaining priority over the formation of meanings”; she concludes that a “cultural politics of information does not simply address the proliferation of representations but, more fundamentally, the turbulent dynamics of sociocultural emergence within an open informational milieu.”[10] Beyond representations, there should be particular consideration of the volatility of the infrastructure from sociocultural (and affective) conditions and conditioning; in this space, (invisible) regimes of power and control can anchor a turbulence in communicative exchange, in which the system's logic functions as an instrument of exclusion.

In the case of CarbonStory above, a supposed linear transfer of information is, in fact, multilinear strata of exclusions—not only of information but of entanglements—that disguise the complexity of the crisis as an optional game. The exclusion of entanglements from the plurality and volatility of the infrastructural pathways filter through competing realities, conflicting realities, or conflicting interests. If instrumentalized, communication is a depoliticization, normalizing delusions that exclude climate injustices and inequalities; infrastructural management vis-à-vis communication can be a tool for green neoliberalism. CarbonStory prioritized the financialization of climate change through personalization. The “careful selection” for climate campaign sponsorship was rather a practice of exclusion disguised as inclusive action. The World Under Water campaign substituted the ontological reality of climate violence with a simulated “experience” of an event, ultimately exposing it as a marketing tactic for spectacle.

Just as various infrastructural factors can cause catastrophic impact from heavy flooding, the infrastructure of communication is also vulnerable to a deluge of interference that can block inclusion and facilitate exclusion—in information and in meaning, of differences and of bodies. So, in thinking through the ecological, wading through the floods, I wish to negotiate—negotiate in what appears to be an optional game in which there exists a transactional reconnaissance of making and taking. Though what appears to be a game is actually not a game but an orientation where I occupy an aimless position. If there exists an orientation, there exists a direction; as infrastructure, communication is an emergent space toward a possibility of—a longing for—more-than-human worlds.

fig. 1 Me, on the far right, posing with family members in front of what-was-once an elementary school buried under dried lahar (volcanic mudflow), two years after the Mount Pinatubo eruption. San Antonio, Pampanga, Philippines, 1993.


In June 1991, in the region of Central Luzon in the Philippines, Mount Pinatubo, a volcano located in the Zambales Mountains, erupted, ejecting more than one cubic mile of an ash cloud that rose twenty-two miles into the air and created avalanches of hot ash, gas, and pumice fragments.[11] Simultaneously, a strong tropical cyclone (Typhoon Yunya) developed around the same time of the eruption, intensifying the disaster, as a combination of ash deposits and heavy rain from the typhoon caused giant mudflows of volcanic material (lahars), consequently causing overbank flooding that buried the towns and villages nearby. Following the eruption, the winds from the typhoon blew the ash cloud westward that covered most of Central Luzon, including Metro Manila (located only fifty-four miles southwest of Mount Pinatubo), and was recorded as having reached as far as Vietnam and Cambodia.[12]


As a then six-year-old living in Manila, I have faint memories of what exactly happened; perhaps, because nostalgic images of an airscape of dark clouds and a landscape blanketed with ash fall and debris dominate my mind from what can only be described as post-apocalyptic—everything dusted in shades of grey and white, like matte snow. Yet despite the tragic consequences, my mind rather reaches for quite a peculiar memory: as volcanic ash fell down and piled up—in front of our apartment, on the driveway, and on the streets—I picked up a plastic spoon and an empty mason jar to collect leftover ash as a collectible, a souvenir, a microcosm of that great eruption to call my own.


fig. 2 Installation of Joana Moll’s net-based piece DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST (2016), which visualises a display and counts a number of trees that need to be planted in order to counteract the amount of CO₂ emissions from global visits to Google.com. Joana Moll, DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST at Ars Electronica Festival, 2018. Image credit: vog.photo.

The reality of that natural disaster is that it had a detrimental socioeconomic impact, slowing down any growth momentum and development activities in the region. Deemed the second-largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century, the explosion of Mount Pinatubo resulted in $700 million in damage, which included the livelihood of approximately 2.1 million people who lived in the surrounding area. Beyond efforts in post-disaster relief and following the eruption’s aftermath, however, many Filipinos saw a value to the volcanic ash, crafting art and making sculptures from what was gathered (some creating and capitalizing on its exchange-value, cashing in from selling what was made)—lemonade out of lemons, if you will.[13]

In a 2004 essay titled, “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern,” Bruno Latour identifies Heidegger’s definitions of object and thing as analogies for his analyses on the construction of fact and concern in both communication and critical discourse. An object, for Latour, has no defining traits or characteristics apart from its physical, material, or superficial properties; it is static, either held in position as a trite explanation from a cause-and-effect analysis or an idol. A thing, in contrast, co-opts a position that orients the conditions of being, defining it as “an object out there and [...] an issue very much in there.”[14] In Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption, the repurposing of volcanic ash goes beyond aestheticizing and commodifying. What’s been largely revealed is the significance of a processual reconfiguring: volcanic ash is the object, but in its matter-ing, what we observe is its un-becoming.

Observing recurring and recursive tensions in climate change communication between the news media, the scientific community, and politicians, Latour indicates, in the essay, that there is an “excessive distrust of good matters of fact disguised as ideological biases.” For the critic, he pushes for an advancement of contemporary critical inquiry by putting forth a proposal to cultivate not only “matters of fact” but also “a stubbornly realist attitude,” which he identifies as “matters of concern.” On its own, matters of fact do not define a reality and can be “very partial [...] very polemical, very political renderings of matters of concern,” proposing instead to “dig much further into the realist attitude.” For Latour, a sole recognition of fact, or observation of object, is limited thinking—“a poor proxy of experience and of experimentation,” expressing the role of the critic as “not one who debunks, but [...] one who assembles.”[15] If communicating about the climate crisis is increasingly becoming instrumentalized, there is a need to redirect positions in the emergent space of communication where the normalization of illusions form and delusions function. In reassessing communicating as differentiating—an always already un-becoming of difference between object and thing, fact and concern—there is no mutual exclusion and only essential inclusion. In his suggestion to dig into a realist attitude, differentiating—the matter-ing of difference—reclaims communication from instrumentalization.

But why does this matter-ing matter?

Within the existing communication infrastructure, there is an illusion of a dissolution of boundaries that convolutes difference as sameness, which creates a delusion that equates sameness with equivalence. Matter-ing matters because it is situating a plurality of positions in the erratic logic of the dominant systems of communicating. Between object and thing, matters of fact and concern, these positions rework difference as constitutive to the climate crisis—difference that is not totalized (exclusion) but a differentiating that continuously moves through boundaries. This matter-ing matters because it reconfigures anthropocentrism and human exceptionalism; communicating about the climate crisis becomes communicating in entanglements. It becomes neither a resistance to extinction nor a desire for immortality; it is, instead, a matter of actively occupying the radical relations between human and nonhuman toward more-than-human worlds.

In DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST, a 2016 project from Joana Moll, the artist created a net-based platform that visualizes the number of trees that need to be planted to offset the amount of CO₂ emissions from global visits to Google.com. As the most visited site on the Internet, Google emits an estimated amount of 500kg of CO₂ emissions every second. Calculating the average amount of CO₂ that a tree can absorb and the average number of visits to the website per second, the artist “[imagines]... alternative techno-paradigms which may coherently respond to our environmental and human conditions.”[16]

DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST foregrounds human impact on the environment by materializing the invisible boundaries created in networked dynamics and platform technologies. Moll situates a matter-ing of entanglements—user, tree, algorithm—calling for a re-evaluation of subjectivity toward more-than-human worlds. Reappropriating computational techniques, the artist adopts the dominant logic of communication in order to reclaim it. Moll positions matters of fact with matters of concern, attaching object to thing; more significantly, toward a new ecology of communication, she tactically exploits the system to find the potential means for destabilizing it.


Toward more-than-human worlds, among humans and nonhumans, communicating in entanglements could be tricky. It requires a tactical exploitation of delusion—a putting down, a flipping, a reversing. It requires a back-to-basics understanding of communication toward an interrogation of its dominant becoming.

In a 2017 psychopharmacological study on the effects of psychedelic substances on nature relatedness, researchers found that “experience with classic psychedelics uniquely predicted self-reported engagement in pro-environmental behaviors.” In correlation with the use of psychedelics, “nature relatedness,” as a construct identified in previous studies, is defined as a “stable personality trait that captures people’s ecological self-construal, or ecological identity… [which] centers around their perceived connectedness with the natural world,” including people’s affective, cognitive, and physical relationship with nature, as well as, “an abstract understanding of their interconnectedness with all living beings on this planet.”[17]

According to the research, exposure to psilocybin enhances a recollection of personal memories and emotions with increased vividness, in addition, to “[triggering] a decrease in cerebral blood flow in brain regions that serve as structural ‘hubs’ for information transmission between different brain regions and as systems for cognitive integration.” Use of LSD, on the other hand, can “decrease the tendency to engage in mental time travel to the past [...] often associated with rumination and depressive thoughts,” and instead, “increase the subjective intensity of suggested psychobiological states, such as [...] one’s arm [...] becoming heavier, or [...] water [tasting] especially refreshing.” The research found that psychedelic states, which include hallucinations, produced “profound [feelings] of connectedness or unity [...] causing the lines between self and environment to blur.” As a consequence of an “ego-dissolution” during psychedelia, there is an “evocation of empathy” from an anthropomorphization of certain elements in nature that would, as the researchers ultimately hypothesized, “manifest in increased pro-environmental behavior.”[18]

Look, I don’t advise that everyone in the world dose on ‘shrooms or LSD to act on the climate crisis. In matters of fact, there are still nuances to the research study, which includes distinguishing frequency (between lifetime and recreational use of classic psychedelics) and measuring actual pro-environmental behavior from the participant’s “true self” as opposed to their “ideal-self”; in matters of concern, the researchers attach the need for the study as a “common goal to heal the fundamental alienation between humans and nature, thereby aiding in the conservation of our planet,” identified as an essential moral imperative for a climate crisis resolution.[19]

In psychedelia, existing systems of knowledge and primitive beliefs are intercepted through the emergence of a hyper-imagination from the conjuring of hallucinations, which increases measures of “nature relatedness” or reveals an ecological identity (both defined earlier as constructs). The constructs of “relatedness” and “identity” however, are fixed because an implicit sameness is assumed as equivalent in the ecological paradigm for anyone, everyone, anything and everything, restricting the value of differentiating from the blurring of lines between self and environment.

Affirming imaginary and bodily excess through matter-ing in entanglements requires a radical decentralization of self beyond identity and individuality. When communicating in entanglements toward more-than-human worlds, there is a necessary transfiguration of self toward an ecological singularity. In thinking through communication as a trip (colloquially defined as the experience of hallucinations from taking psychedelic drugs), constructs break down, paths divert, and communication becomes more than an instrument of interest, and instead, manifests as an emergent space for materializing difference in ecological engagement.

In matter-ing—an always already un-becoming of difference—it is not the beginning (an assumed formation) nor the end (an outcome) but rather the navigable in-between that shifts dominant or oppressive epistemological thinking toward the potential of radical ecological engagement. Challenging the existing systems of communicating while implicated in its mutable logic, the “trip” is a processual and tactical exploitation of delusion that reassesses the complexity of ecological relations as a matter of redistributing agency with other (and vice-versa).

The concept of “singularity” involves numerous interpretations, analyses, and theories; ecological singularity, in this context, extends from both the Deleuzian notion of “singularity” and the Guattarian material-semiotic process of “singularization.” Taking from Georges Simondon’s concept of individuation, Gilles Deleuze reconceptualizes “singularity” as an “event” for the new phase of being—a “pre-individuation,” a becoming of the individual and a conditioning of its potential.[20] In Three Ecologies, on the other hand, Félix Guattari calls for the process of “re-singularization” in order to counteract the homogenization of desires and the standardization of ways of living (largely influenced by the media); “singularization,” in the Guattarian sense, is an “emergence of entities” in which there are “processes that undo (or deterritorialize) existing stratifications and in turn congeal (or reterritorialize) new modes of being.”[21] In either case, “singularity” and “singularization” depart from the construct of identity and converge at a rearticulation of self that takes matters of condition and acts of conditioning as a matter-ing of difference. Ecological singularity is a spatiotemporal immersing in the duration of the “trip” with a pace that values intensity over speed. It is neither the start nor finish; ecological singularity is always already happening as means for experimental more-than-human-world-ing based on experiential materializing.

Communication in an ecological singularity dispossesses spatiotemporal self-positioning as a redistribution of agency. In a multi-media installation series titled Pteridophilia (2016-ongoing), Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo interprets the concept of ecological singularity as an “eco-queer” potential, taking from queer and feminist discourses that challenge hegemonic knowledge systems in order to reconsider the notions of sexuality, gender, and nature in a cultural level.[22] In a three-part sequence, the artist dis-identifies with heteronormative sexual difference through imaginary and bodily excess as a tactical exploitation of delusion.

On the surface, the series introduces what appears to be humans experiencing a “trip,” hallucinating in a lush forest against an auditory chamber of nature. The first segment shows a fully nude man entangled in the center. Slowly, as the man walks further, he disappears into the green abyss; the scenes, alternating between his journey and close-ups of the fern. Within moments, the man stands under a larger plant, rattling its soft stems above his head; quickly changing over, the segment introduces six other men who make close contact with various species of fern in what appears to be voyeuristic scenes of deviant forest bathing and gay cruising. From an exhibitionist stance, they each perform uncompromising and explicit sexual acts with the fern, smelling its leaves, licking its curled tips, and in a couple of cases, eating parts of the plant entirely. And by the final segment, each man practices varied acts of BDSM with the plant—thin stems of thorn wrap around the penis while pliable branches choke-hold the neck.

fig. 3 Still image from Zheng Bo’s Pteridophilia 3 (2018), displaying BDSM interplay between the man and fern. Zheng Bo, Pteridophilia 3, 4K video with sound, duration 15 minutes, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist. .

Pteridophilia is beyond biophilia and/or the eco-sexual. Zheng translates the “eco-queer” potential of nature relatedness as an intimacy that recognizes the complexities of difference while reorienting positions of dominance, submission, and control from human-over-nonhuman to human-with-nonhuman and nonhuman-with-human. In this situating, an emergence of communication unfolds; there are, however, only silent exchanges between man and fern—an experiential and experimental matter-ing of difference. Communication between human and nonhuman is decidedly focused on the non-verbal and tactile instead. Communicating is testing pain thresholds; communicating is unleashing pleasures; communicating is activating queer desires.

From a curatorial lens, the series, in different exhibition settings, has been installed in assorted displays. At the 2018 Manifesta 12 in Palermo, for example, a single-channel television monitor was posted against a bamboo grove in the city’s botanical garden; at the 2019 Garden of Earthly Delights exhibition at the Gropius Bau in Berlin, four TV monitors set on the floor loosely confine rows of fern plants in terracotta pots that sit atop cinder blocks. In either case, the materializing interaction of observer with the screen interrogates self-positioning in the ecological present; a direct encounter with the plant(s) provokes a necessary emergence of radical relationality as a deliberate attempt to confront the dominant ideologies of normativity and conformity in gender and sexuality.

Ecological singularity warrants matter-ing over fact or concern, object or thing; it is a deep immersion into matter-ing, of which excesses in the imaginary always already transfigure bodies into a corporeal extreme for potentiality. In communicating, ecological singularity is a scrutiny of the instrumentalization and ultimate depoliticization of communication in order to engage within the entanglements between human and nonhuman that push beyond the maximum. During the “trip,” ecological singularity is seeing obstacles not as barriers but as deficiencies of the imagination; surpassing exploring, discovering, and navigating, arriving at an ecological singularity is subverting the conditions of and conditioning of self and culture embedded in delusion.


The climate crisis is ongoing; communicating in entanglements should be never-ending. Thinking through the existing ecology of communication during an ecological crisis and the possibilities for another, I drift through more questions. How can we subvert and pervert the dominance of erratic logics in the systems of communicating? In the extremes of climate inaction and eco-fascism, how can we rethink environmental advocacy and civic participation through ecological singularity? What is an ecological singularity for bodies of color? What is ecological singularity in the nonhuman? For the more-than-human?

I look back. My brain—flooded with thoughts, feelings, words, numbers, facts, concerns, objects, things, and matters—a matter-ing!

In late February, while scrolling through Twitter, I came across a New York Times climate report on the rising sea levels in the Philippines:

“Adapting to Rising Seas, Schools Move to the Rafters and Cats Swim”

I click on the article and peruse through images of flooded homes and streets, read through notes on children “sloshing” their feet in the tides and descriptions of swimming dogs, goats, and cats in Batasan, an island in the south-central region of the country. A sociologist declares that while “the entire [country] is a hazardous landscape [...] [people] have developed [a] culture of adaptation and recovery.” For the people and animals of Batasan, uprooting their lives to a higher elevation is not that simple, choosing instead to “respond [...] to a new reality.”[23]

But is this a new reality?

I sigh.


Dennis Dizon is an independent researcher, artist, and digital curator. He holds a Master of Research degree in Advanced Practices (Curatorial/Knowledge) from Goldsmiths, University of London. He is Filipinx-American, currently working between London and Barcelona.



[1] Chito Chavez, “Rapid industrialization, heavy rainfall, dumping of garbage in waterways cause of flooding in Metro Manila,” Manila Bulletin, June 9, 2018,


[2] “Climate Change: How Do We Know?” Facts, NASA, last modified March 3, 2020, https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence.

[3] “The Causes of Climate Change,” Facts, NASA, last modified March 3, 2020, https://climate.nasa.gov/causes.

[4] Matthew Ballew, Matthew Goldberg, Abel Gustafson, John Kotcher, Anthony Leiserowitz, Edward Maibach and Seth Rosenthal, “Climate Change in the American Mind: December 2018,” accessed February 13, 2020, https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/climate-change-in-the-american-mind-december-2018/2.

[5] Karen Barad, “Nature’s Queer Performativity,” Qui Parle 19, no. 2 (2011): 124, https://doi.org/10.5250/quiparle.19.2.012.

[6] “World Under Water,” World Under Water, accessed February 20, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPvX52jOYDw.

[7] “CarbonStory Launches Crowd Funding Platform for Climate Change Projects,” News, CISION PR Newswire, last modified March 5, 2013, https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/carbonstory-launches-crowd-funding-platform-for-climate-change-projects-195280201.html.

[8] CarbonStory, “CarbonStory - Join the Climate Revolution,” YouTube, March 4, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K4nHLXMdTY; “CarbonStory idea,” CarbonStory, accessed February 20, 2020, http://carbonstory.org.

[9] Keller Easterling, EXTRASTATECRAFT: The Power of Infrastructure Space (London and New York: Verso, 2014), 13.

[10] Tiziana Terranova, “Communication beyond Meaning: ON THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF INFORMATION,” Social Text 1, no. 22 (September 2004): 51, 71, https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-22-3_80-51.

[11] Christopher G. Newhall, James W. Hendley II, and Peter H. Stauffer, “The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines,” US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 113-97, last modified February 28, 2005, https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/1997/fs113-97.

[12] Christopher G. Newhall and Raymundo S. Punongbayon, eds., FIRE AND MUD: ERUPTIONS AND LAHARS OF MOUNT PINATUBO, PHILIPPINES (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1996); “Tephra Falls of the 1991 Eruptions of Mount Pinatubo,” https://pubs.usgs.gov/pinatubo/paladio; Christopher G. Newhall and Raymundo S. Punongbayon, eds., FIRE AND MUD: ERUPTIONS AND LAHARS OF MOUNT PINATUBO, PHILIPPINES (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 1996); “Socioeconomic Impacts of the Mount Pinatubo Eruption,” https://pubs.usgs.gov/pinatubo/mercado.

[13] Sculptures made out of volcanic ash from the Mount Pinatubo eruption have since been an interior design staple. As an example, the American home decor retail company Crate & Barrel sells volcanic ash disc sculptures, which are “reminiscent of the moon or time-weathered stone” and priced between £43.20 and £60.50. See “Volcanic Ash Disc Sculptures,” Decor, Crate & Barrel, accessed February 25, 2020, https://www.crateandbarrel.com/volcanic-ash-disc-sculptures/f90799.

[14] Bruno Latour, "Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Critical Inquiry 30, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 233, 238-239, https://doi.org/10.1086/421123.

[15] Bruno Latour, "Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern," Critical Inquiry 30, no. 2 (Winter 2004): 227, 229, 231-232, 245-246, https://doi.org/10.1086/421123.

[16] Joana Moll, “DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST,” accessed February 25, 2020, http://www.janavirgin.com/CO2/DEFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOREST_about.html.

[17] Matthias Forstmann and Christina Sagioglou, “Lifetime experience with (classic) psychedelics predicts pro-environmental behavior through an increase in nature relatedness,” Journal of Psychopharmacology 31, no. 8 (June 2017): 976, 977, 979, https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881117714049.

[18] Ibid., 976-977.

[19] Ibid., 977, 984-985.

[20] Peter Borum, “The Notion of ‘Singularity’ in the Work of Gilles Deleuze,” Deleuze Studies 11, no. 1 (January 2017): 98-99, https://doi.org/10.3366/dls.2017.0253.

[21] Birgit Mara Kaiser, “Singularization,” in Symptoms of the Planetary Condition: A Critical Vocabulary, eds. Mercedes Bunz, Birgit Mara Kaiser and Kathrin Thiele (Lüneberg: Messon Press, 2017), 156-157.

[22] Bo Zheng, “Pteridophilia,” accessed February 27, 2020, http://zhengbo.org/2018_PP3.html.

[23] Hannah Beech, “Adapting to Rising Seas, Schools Move to the Rafters and Cats Swim,” New York Times, February 22, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/22/world/asia/philippines-climate-change-batasan-tubigon.html.



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