On the most powerful catalyst on the planet

Türetken, Füsun. 2023. On the most powerful catalyst on the planet. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Grounded in Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of “panmetallism”, this thesis provides a critical reading of conflict and capital and aims to foster novel perspectives in understanding the agency of matter – particularly metals.

It sets out to theorise the complicity of metals as agents that influence and register instances of (political) conflict. Exploring the role of metal as the conductor of all matter, it designates specific metals as protagonists by showing how their presence determines the causation of events. Acknowledging metal’s ubiquity and the aesthetic, cultural, socioeconomic and political entanglements it creates, the study then examines metal’s role in shaping the world of capitalist finance, belief systems, geopolitical relations, (digital) bodies, and even the stratosphere and climate-engineered weapons.
The first chapter, on gold, analyses the London Metal Exchange, linking its mode of operation to concepts and forms of intention deriving from alchemy; the term “Alchemic Desire” is used to characterise the nexus between human and metallic actors.
Chapter Two focuses on mercury, particularly its role in the slow violence resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Center, and dramatises its interaction with the body of James Zadroga, one of the key first police responders to the 9/11 attack who later died of lung disease ascribed to the inhalation of metals.
The third chapter is a Frankenstein-esque experiment that attempts to overcome the Cartesian body–mind split. Starting from the properties of neodymium, it proposes to stitch a Deleuzo-Guattarian “metallic head” to the human body, thereby introducing the idea of a “superconductive” biopolitics existing in an incipient age of digital colonialism in which labour exploitation becomes infinitely expandable.
Chapter Four takes silver iodide to consider the role of weaponised clouds and the ends to which these manifestations of “Franken-weather” have been deployed in both war and peace.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Matter, Metals, Vibrant Matter, Rare Earth, Materialism, Geo-Engineering

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


30 November 2023

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

08 Dec 2023 17:37

Last Modified:

08 Dec 2023 17:37



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