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Christiane Voss

Abstract

This essay deals with the poetic mediality of the affective, arguing for the case of a new hybrid unit composed of human and media form called ‘anthropomediality.’ Using the example of the phenomenon of the habitat diorama—a visual mode of presentation that emerged in the late nineteenth century—this type of affective mediality is explored as a specific aesthetic function of immersive dispositives. First introduced by natural history museums, the habitat diorama comprised a collection of taxidermied animals, faux terrains and naturalistic landscape paintings. In showing scenes of unspoiled idyllic nature, the form was intended to move the observer and promote ecological awareness, while functioning as a fictional reenactment of nature as constructed by the theories of evolution. Through its perspectival arrangements, atmospheric effects and unique performative gestures of address, the habitat diorama places the viewer affectively and imaginatively in a foreign world. The result is an immersive aesthetics of modal relocalizations realized through a medium of synaesthetic affection.