08 May 2011 /

insect media: an archaeology of animals and technology

By jussi parikka

In his recent book, the Finnish new media theorist Jussi Parikka traces the history of thinking about insects as technological animals, from pre-cybernetic 19th century formation of modern entomology to the post-war conceptualisation of control and communication in the animal and machine in cybernetics. While drawing attention to the much discussed analogy between insect forms of social organization (i.e. swarms, hives, webs, and distributed intelligence) and contemporary media practices (i.e. swarming, smart mobs, collaborative forms of production), the book proposes to reverse this and instead to consider ‘insects as media’. In this way, Parrika offers a new perspective on the interconnection of biology and technology as part of network culture; in short, an insect theory of media.

“Insects are already the future! They are terribly fascinating, a form of invention that is already much older than us that will outlast us humans after we destroyed our own habitat because of pollution, waste and not least, electronic waste – the leftovers of our media culture leaking toxins and heavy metals to nature. This is truly non-human, non-linear ‘archaeology’ that spans thousands, millions of years, and that invented a form of relating to the world that differs from our reflective, conscious relation.”

(Jussi Parrika interviewed by John Protevi in New APPS, 2 March 2011)

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