A Feeling for Worlds: Encountering Animals as Sensors

15 January 2019, 17:30 - 19:00

SG1, Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site

This event is free and open to all. To register your place please click on the online registration link on this page.

Jennifer Gabrys, Professor, Chair in Media, Culture and Environment, University of Cambridge

This public event is part of the Machine Feeling 2018 research workshoporganised by

– APRJA_, A Peer-Reviewed Journal About_/Aarhus University(Geoff Cox & Christian Ulrik Andersen)
– transmediale– festival for art and digital culture (Kristoffer Gansing & Daphne Dragona)
– Cambridge Digital Humanities Learning Programme, University of Cambridge (Anne Alexander)

Sensors are increasingly used in ecological study for the tracking of organisms, often with the direct outfitting of animals with sensor backpacks and radio collars, in order to understand movement and migration. The movements of organisms, from badgers to elephant seals to storks, inform understandings not only of the journeys these animals take, but also the environments that they inhabit and rely upon. The “machine feeling” that sensors articulate is then simultaneously engaged with the feelings for worlds that tracked animals experience. This presentation will consider the modes of feeling and experience that concretize across organisms, sensors and milieus through the tracing of animals’ journeys. Rather than see tracking technologies as mirroring devices that capture hitherto unknown movements and journeys, I consider how these technical objects are involved in individuating organisms and environments as entities in need of further study and protection, and as forming computational relationships that would activate the practices necessary to achieve these objectives.

Respondent: Martin Zeilinger, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Jennifer Gabrys is Chair in Media, Culture and Environment in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, and Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently Principal Investigator on the project AirKit, and she previously led the project Citizen Sense, both funded by the European Research Council. She is the author of Program Earth: Environmental Sensing Technology and the Making of a Computational Planet(2016); and Digital Rubbish: A Natural History of Electronics(2011), and co-editor of Accumulation: The Material Politics of Plastic(Routledge, 2013). Her forthcoming books include How to Do Things with Sensors(University of Minnesota Press Forerunners series, 2019), and Citizens of Worlds: Open-Air Toolkits for Environmental Struggle. Her work can be found at citizensense.netand jennifergabrys.net.

Martin Zeilinger is Senior Lecturer in Media at Anglia Ruskin University. He has been co-curator of the Vector New Media Art Festival in Toronto for the past five years, and in 2018 organised MoneyLab #4in London. His research focuses on digital art and algorithmic culture at the intersections of media theory, media art history, and legal theory, with particular interest in critical practices of appropriation. Recent topical essays have been published in journals including Philosophy & Technology and Platform, and in books including Parsing DigitalArtists Re:Thinking the Blockchain, and MoneyLab Reader Vol. 2. A special issue of Media Theorytitled ‘Rethinking Affordance’ (co-edited with Ashley Scarlett) is forthcoming in 2019.