By Elizabeth Swanstrom

Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature

In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a convinced and lively argument for using electronic artwork in help of ameliorating human engagement with the surroundings and indicates a four-part framework for interpreting and discussing such applications.
 
via shut readings of a panoply of texts, works of art, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the department pop culture has for many years saw among nature and expertise is man made. not just is electronic expertise no longer unavoidably a brick within the street to a dystopian way forward for environmental catastrophe, yet electronic paintings varieties could be a revivifying bridge that returns humans to a extra rapid dating to nature in addition to their very own embodied selves.
 
to research and comprehend the intersection of electronic artwork and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores 4 aesthetic ideas: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and keeping. “Coding” denotes the best way artists use operational desktop code to blur differences among the reader and textual content, and, for that reason, the realm. Inviting a fluid belief of the boundary among human and expertise, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions in regards to the human body’s innate perimeter. the method of translation among traditional and human-readable symptoms that allows verbal exchange is defined as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the applying of electronic artwork through artists to democratize huge- and small-scale upkeep efforts.
 
a desirable synthesis of literary feedback, communications and journalism, technological know-how and know-how, and rhetoric that attracts on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, games, and pop culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships among electronic aesthetics and environmental feedback are attainable that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with different residing and nonliving things.

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Example text

As in Krauss’ analy­sis, grids in Castricano’s view concern themselves with measuring and quantifying and, as such, maintain a clear distinction between subjects and objects and, hence, human and environment. Yet grids are not just cultural objects but also natural ones. Grids as material structures exist through­out nature. They do not always inhere in right angles and rigid xy intersects, nor in human windows (or human-­computer interfaces) as manifestations of human intellect. The grid also acts as an organizing principle for all animals who must make their homes, build their nests, design their honeycombs, dams, dens, reefs, and lairs.

A tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture” (Image, Music, Text 146). Interpretation is always subjective and interpretative, but it is never conducted within a vacuum of any in­di­vidual sys­tem of signs. Instead, literary codes are porous and refractive; they don’t merely “contain multitudes,” they generate them. What insights do these scenarios provide? Each worker in the examples just given would most likely have no interest in the other, at least not on a practical level.

But the code here is traceable, real; it ties to in­di­vidual operations and controls the hardware that makes them manifest. Davies’ description of such technological specs is significant: “Osmose runs on a silicon graphics ONYX, with connections to a crystal river acoustatron, miniguear, and a Macintosh quadra for sound Coding / 29 control” (Osmose). Terms such as “silicon,” “onyx,” “crystal,” “river,” and even “Macintosh,” signal brand names, of course, not literal natural features, but by emphasizing these names in the project description, Davies cannily reminds us of the organic nature of computer technology itself, which is made of the most basic elements around—sand, glass, water—and grounded in natural objects.

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