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Disaster Residue

When the disaster comes upon us, it does not come. The disaster is it’s imminence, but since the future, as we conceive of it in the order of lived time, belongs to the disaster, the disaster has always already withdrawn or dissuaded it; there is no future for the disaster, just as there is no time or space for its accomplishment.


Maurice Blanchot The Writing of the Disaster pg. 1-2

A leak, whether it be a physical leak or a leak of information, can always be traced back to the source, revealing a flaw in the infrastructure or the individual from which it came. The leak is always a symptom of a greater issue, by nature it exposes itself, and often lead to political, social, and legal implications.31 The leak is comparable to Disaster Residue, banal indicators of deterioration in our environment— like the sidewalks splattered with spotted lanternflies— which when excavated affirm the considerable issues at hand. Leaks are often met with futile efforts, bandaids and temporary fixes. In disaster films there is often a whistleblower, usually a colleague, fellow scientist, doctor, woman, who follows the leak before anyone else, and is almost always labeled mad and dismissed. These are the few that see the disaster before it falls from the sky.

Drawing attention to the gaps, excavating the crack, is an ontological journey, through the leak the threshold subject learns to embrace the rules of visitation. Non-hyperbolic disaster films have the potential to develop leaky subjects, characters that excavate the leak and recognise the porous boundaries and zones of passage between the symptom and the epicentre.


The leak exposes the greater issues that exist within our infrastructure, and if not appropriately addressed, lead to disastrous consequences. Disaster residue is present in both the before and after the event, it is present in a failing system and investigated in the ruins.

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