Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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p. ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

Animal, Vegetable, Digital had its genesis at Umeå University in northern Sweden, and I remain inspired by the many people who assisted me in its early stages there, both in HUMlab, a creative space for digital humanities work, and in Institutionen för språkstudier (Department of Language Studies). James Barrett, Ele Carpenter, Coppélie...

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Introduction: Animal, Vegetable, Digital

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pp. 16-33

The Vernagtferner Glacier lies on the southwest edge of the Austrian Alps, approximately nine thousand feet above sea level. In a Google Earth satellite image taken in 2014, the glacier appears stately and serene, frozen literally in space and figuratively in time, a majestic monument to nature’s constancy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like all glaciers, the Vernagtferner is on the move. It surges and recedes...

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1. Coding: Creating and Erasing Worlds of Signs

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pp. 34-67

All things that can be read, watched, and listened to online are readable, watchable, and audible because of computer code. Code manages the fuel efficiency of the cars we drive and the energy consumption of our home appliances; it animates and controls the dendrites of network communication as we know it. Yet as crucial as computer code is, we seldom see it. Unlike Neo in the Matrix, code remains hidden...

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2. Collapsing: Challenging Boundaries of Bodies and Forms

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pp. 68-98

Digital art can help us play with the boundary lines between our bodies and the world, and even make these boundaries suspect. This is the aesthetic strategy of collapsing. By this I mean to signify ways that digital art works to challenge conventional assumptions about the physical integrity of the human body.1 But it also challenges a taxonomic boundary that suggests that the human body is fundamentally...

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3. Corresponding: Communicating with Natural Agents

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pp. 99-126

In a restaurant in Kamakura, Japan, a Hoya kerrii plant named Midori-san (“honorable green”) has its own blog. The “Sweetheart Plant” is hooked up to sensors that record the levels of light and moisture it receives throughout the day, and an algorithm translates this information into complete sentences in Japanese that indicate the plant’s “emotional” state of “mind.” These sentences are then posted on the plant’s...

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4. Conserving: Saving Nature through Game Play

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pp. 127-156

Making the decision to conserve land has, since recorded history, been a contentious political undertaking. In the fourth century BCE, petitioners from the city of Athens traveled to the Oracle at Delphi to ask whether or not a portion of a “sacred meadow” (sacred to the Earth goddess Demeter and her daughter, Kore) ought to be further cultivated...

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Coda: Self, System, Ecosystem

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pp. 157-161

The preceding chapters have outlined four strategies of aesthetic engagement that bring together natural and digital ecologies: coding, collapsing, corresponding, conserving. Focusing upon each, one at a time, has allowed me to demonstrate its effects in clearer relief than if I had considered them all at once. If object-oriented ontology and Actor-Network- Theory teach us anything, however, it is that nothing...

Notes

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pp. 162-193

Works Cited

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pp. 194-215

Index

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pp. 216-222