The Chelsea Explosion and The Chelsea Media Ecology


Though I’m still not 100% sure what a Media Ecology is exactly, I’m fairly sure one of these was created yesterday night in relation to the Chelsea Explosion from yesterday night. At around 8:30pm on the night of September 18th, we all became part of what I’ll call the “Chelsea Media Ecology.”

As Matthew Fuller explains, the term “ecology” indicates “the massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects, beings and things, patterns and matter” (Fuller, 2). When you insert the term “media” in front of it (and as Fuller points out), you become concerned with “how information flows are routed within an organization” (Fuller, 3). So, if you combine “the massive and dynamic interrelation of processes and objects” with flows of information within an organization, you will arrive at what is my best understanding for the concept of a media ecology.

From this, I’m making an announcement: If you have heard or read any sort of information about the Chelsea Explosion from yesterday, whether it was on social media or traditional news or word of mouth or in person, whether it was on your smartphone or TV or computer or from a friend or with your own senses, you have become a part of the Chelsea Media Ecology. And with the amount of information flows out there today and the speed at which they travel, I’m betting it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of the world is now a part of this media ecology.

To give my personal example, from the roof of my buddy’s apartment building I saw a helicopter outfitted with a powerful searchlight circling the area of the explosion. I was on my phone refreshing Twitter and Reddit about every 30 seconds trying to get the latest updates. My buddy was texting other people and also on Facebook doing the same. I heard the sounds of sirens wailing and saw cop cars driving towards the area of the explosion. I saw a TV in a window tuned to the news reporting about the explosion. In the 10 minutes I was on that roof, I became connected to 8 or so flows of information related to the Chelsea Explosion.

And now we shift to Affect. A popular image of many news articles on the Internet was the blown up dumpster that contained the bomb. Taking the term coined by Jane Bennett, that dumpster undeniably possesses (or possessed? Is it dead now?) what she calls “Thing-Power,” or “the curious ability of inanimate things to animate, to act, to produce effects dramatic and subtle” (Bennet, 6). Just looking at the images of the dumpster invoked a sense of shock and a slight sense of fear in me. Again, while I’m not 100% sure what Affect is exactly, I’m fairly sure some sort of affect was transferred between the explosion, that dumpster, and myself.

The Chelsea Explosion also loosely ties to my ecology idea because it relates to streets in New York City. For my ecology idea, I’m thinking of doing an Avenue Ethnography of sorts: picking an avenue in New York City and walking up and down it, observing the changes in the street – changes in people, in stores, in restaurants, in cultures, in levels of wealth – as I move from neighborhood to neighborhood. My goal will be to create a representation of an entire street, with all its different parts and characteristics, in an easy to understand manner. Returning to and ending with the Chelsea Explosion, there is no denying the incident will inevitably leave a lasting impact on that street and on the people of that neighborhood, for better or for worse.

– Kai Hatakeyama

Works Cited

– Bennett, Jane. “Preface.” Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke UP, 2010.vii-xix. Print.
– Fuller, Matthew, and Roger Malina F. “Introduction: Media Ecologies.” Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and       Technoculture. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2005. 1-5. Print.


~ by kaihatakeyama on September 18, 2016.

4 Responses to “The Chelsea Explosion and The Chelsea Media Ecology”

  1. Kai, I really thought that your blog post did a great job in terms of learning. I really appreciated that you wrote about an event that happened over the weekend and applied to the required readings. In particular, I thought how you related the idea of affect to the Chelsea dumpster to be very thought provoking given that it is an inanimate object.

  2. Kai, I really love how your post ties together ecology and affect through something that is (extremely) current and filled with social and technological considerations. The explosion and the reaction following online and in the media help to create a fascinating ecology that you do a wonderful job highlighting, with the affect of the situation symbolized through a crumpled dumpster in the middle of 23rd Street. You seamlessly transition this into your larger ecology of examining the ecology of an avenue, which will reveal a vast ecology of people, class, and culture. I can’t wait to see what avenue you choose. Great job! – Nolan

  3. Best Learning- by focusing on such a current event that each of us has encountered in a personal way, you really made clear the principles of the readings by linking them to such a relevant example. If any of us reading this was unclear about understanding media ecologies or affect, we certainly finished this post with a better understanding. Thank you!
    – Theresa S

  4. “Best overall” — I really liked the way you structured your post, the overall style was effective in terms of communicating content, and I think you gave a very solid review for each of the readings that you decided to incorporate. I think that by incorporating the ideas of a media ecology that we discussed in class into a current event, you were able to make the concepts more concrete. — Jenny Sze

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