Digital and Natural Ecologies

Gathering: Digital and Natural Ecologies

Collected by: 
Publication date: 

The Peripheral Future


In this introduction to her gathering on Digital and Natural Ecologies, Lisa Swanstrom pulls back from the tendency towards apocalyptic speculation that is commonplace in popular discourse of technology and nature. Instead, Swanstrom offers a more grounded discourse that addresses the impact of the digital on the natural.

Environmental Remediation


Bridging Superfund sites and video games, Alenda Chang’s essay revisits media- and computation-centered definitions of remediation to extend media and mediation past the pale of digital visual technology. Through a parallel consideration of what’s known as environmental remediation—cleaning up or cordoning off polluted sites, using technological or biotechnological methods—Chang argues that human and nonhuman bodies and ecosystems are equally enmeshed in practices of communication and transformation.

#clusterMucks: Iterating synthetic-ecofeminisms


In the course of examining a number of key concepts in New Materialism, eco-criticism, and feminist philosophy, Melanie Doherty delves into Jamie Skye Bianco’s digitally generated “postnature writing.” Doherty’s rich knowledge of contemporary ecofeminist debates helps to contextualize Bianco’s hybrid performance-based works that draw upon a database of philosophical texts and landscapes, like the Salton Sea and Dead Horse Bay, that have been marred by histories of human misuse.

Sublime Latency and Viral Premediation


In Sublime Latency and Viral Premediation, Kim Knight addresses the “eco-poetics of the viral” across the biological, social, and digital. Through an analysis of the spread of digital infection, the dynamics of anti-virus software, and digital arts practices, Knight discusses a poetics of fear and desire that is instrumental to the transmission of this virtual pathology. Knight continues, drawing parallels with crowdsourced epidemiology apps that track illness and promote physical health, and makes a powerful case for what Richard Grusin has called the “premediation” of anxiety as a strategy for managing affect in the 21st Century.

Review of Heather Houser’s Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect


In this review of Heather Houser’s Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction, Sharalyn Sanders identifies the hopeful potential for environmental justice via contemporary literature. Finding a solidarity implied between intersectional identities and ecocriticism, Sander’s finds in Houser’s call for “scholarly activism” an antidote to the detachment which threatens to thwart environmental awareness.

Intersectional Ecologies: Matt Kenyon’s "Useful Fictions," an interview


Lisa Swanstrom interviews Matt Kenyon, founding member of S.W.A.M.P. (Studies of Work Atmosphere and Mass Production, co-founded with Doug Easterly), an Associate Professor of Art in the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, and a 2015 TED Fellow.

Cave Gave Game: Subterranean Space as Videogame Place


Jerz and Thomas identify our fascination with natural cave spaces, and then chart that fascination as it descends into digital realms, all in order to illustrate the importance of “the cave” as a metaphor for how we interact with our environment.