Animal and/as Medium: Symbolic Work in Communicative Regimes


This paper addresses the widespread imagery of animals in contemporary media culture. Focusing on advertising for cell phones, it suggests that dogs and monkeys mediating between phones and users carry pedagogical messages that work across and underneath the surfaces of corporate advertising. Images from this well orchestrated campaign reveal a shift in how technologies are marketed to youths. Analyzing first the rhetoric and then the connective actualities of these ads, I argue that they serve a dual purpose of industrializing emotion and militarizing security by organizing new conditions for communicative action. Simultaneously they hint at the true stakes of the toxic manufacture and waste production that comprise the production cycle of these machines-animals. These images carry a powerful emotional affect that needs to be understood in relation to a war on nature in which communication may or may not make the difference.