237.130 Week 4 TASK 3G – Glossary


In Mirzoeff’s book he says, “geologists have named the period since the Industrial Revolution as the Anthropocene: the New Human Era.” (Mirzoeff 219). He goes on to describe the Holocene (12,000 years), the Quaternary (2.5 million years) and the Neogene (23 million years). In comparison, the Anthropocene is only roughly 180 years. It shows that humans have changed the way we must look at time. Our actions have rapidly changed the planet’s geology.  The Anthropocene represents the way we have let ourselves see the progress and human innovation, i.e. the conquest of nature, but the consequences had not caught up to us until now, and we need to learn to see this and consider our actions.

Aesthetic + Anaesthetic

Aesthetic is described in Mirzoeff as beauty. Anaesthetic is described as a numbing of the senses. The two become integrally linked when aesthetic causes an anaesthetic effect, when art is used to numb people’s perception of reality. Instead of seeing what was in the art, or in real life, the beauty of it anaesthetized people into seeing other things. Mirzoeff’s example is coal smoke shown in Monet’s Impression: Sun Rising and how people came to see the smoke not as pollution but as a reminder of humanity’s progress and the successful conquest of nature.

Terra Nullius

‘Terra Nullius’ is a roman term used to describe land that “belongs” to no one, or that is not being “used”. It’s a term that was often employed by European settlers in their colonization of lands; it allowed the justification of land appropriation for their needs. A lot of trouble arises though, when you compare different cultures’ ideas of what “using” land means, and what Western ideas deem acceptable use of land. The colonization of Australia was solely based upon Terra Nullius.


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