Animal, vegetable, digital : experiments in new media by Elizabeth Swanstrom

By Elizabeth Swanstrom

Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature

In Animal, Vegetable, Digital, Elizabeth Swanstrom makes a convinced and lively argument for using electronic artwork in aid of ameliorating human engagement with the surroundings and indicates a four-part framework for interpreting and discussing such applications.
via shut readings of a panoply of texts, artistic endeavors, and cultural artifacts, Swanstrom demonstrates that the department pop culture has for many years saw among nature and know-how is synthetic. not just is electronic know-how now not inevitably a brick within the street to a dystopian way forward for environmental catastrophe, yet electronic artwork kinds could be a revivifying bridge that returns humans to a extra rapid courting to nature in addition to their very own embodied selves.
to investigate and comprehend the intersection of electronic paintings and nature, Animal, Vegetable, Digital explores 4 aesthetic options: coding, collapsing, corresponding, and maintaining. “Coding” denotes the way in which artists use operational laptop code to blur differences among the reader and textual content, and, for that reason, the realm. Inviting a fluid perception of the boundary among human and know-how, “collapsing” voids simplistic assumptions in regards to the human body’s innate perimeter. the method of translation among average and human-readable symptoms that allows communique is defined as “corresponding.” “Conserving” is the appliance of electronic artwork through artists to democratize huge- and small-scale maintenance efforts.
a desirable synthesis of literary feedback, communications and journalism, technological know-how and know-how, and rhetoric that pulls on such disparate phenomena as simulated environments, games, and pop culture, Animal, Vegetable, Digital posits that partnerships among electronic aesthetics and environmental feedback are attainable that reconnect humankind to nature and reaffirm its kinship with different dwelling and nonliving things.

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Conserving The fourth and final chapter considers digital artworks and projects in relation to conservation efforts. However, it moves away from the somber and alienating aesthetics that have traditionally characterized conservation efforts in order to reimagine conservation as something democratic and social, by focusing on digital works that aim to foster conservation—of natural spaces and energy—through game play. Games and game-­like features un­ der­gird vari­ous digital applications that target domestic conservation efforts.

In her influential work on the cultural and artistic history of grids, for example, Rosalind Krauss argues that the grid represents the rationality of modern thought at the expense of the material world.  . a way of abrogating the claims of natural objects to have an order particular to themselves” (50). This is a strong argument, illuminated through Krauss’ examples of the evolution of images of windows-­as-­grids, which grow in stature until they eclipse the world. As the grid gains confidence, the world it measures recedes into the background, ultimately effaced.

Computer code, at its base, controls electric voltage to store, retrieve, calculate, and manipulate information. This part of its syntax—electric voltage and its absence—gets things done. But in spite of dystopian narratives about the sinister agency of code, the act and execution of coding is thoroughly tied up with human actions. Accordingly, it will be useful to demonstrate how different codes might come to be involved in the execution of a simple command. The best way to do this is not to “see” it—to do so would be difficult, since running code is, at its heart, a series of electrical events—but to see “coding” in practice.

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