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UAL Research Online

Being Other Than We Are...

Barnett, Heather (2019) Being Other Than We Are... PUBLIC #59: Interspecies Communication, Summer (59). pp. 158-169. ISSN 2048-6928

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Barnett, Heather

Human and non-human lives are inextricably linked in a welter of being. The artists and scholars in this issue engage the comedies, tragedies, surprises, and satisfactions of interspecies communication, broadly defined. Energizing our connections with others through conscious communication seems irresistible to humans, as social primates. Likewise, non-human creatures enter the communicative exchange through vocalization, gesture, touch, and non-verbal cues. From art projects that imagine interspecies dialogues, to lab experiments that produce rhizomatic, non-hierarchical forms of knowledge, to attempts to connect with microbes or alien life, the works presented here enliven human understanding of interspecies discourse. Drawing on art, animal studies, anthropology, architecture, art history, bioethics, game studies, neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, robotics, and technology studies, this special issue of PUBLIC considers the negotiation of information exchange among different forms of embodiment. Each contribution reveals a unique aspect of the aesthetic, social, and ethical dimensions of interspecies entwinements.

Article Preface

For a number of years I have, on a reasonably regular basis, challenged groups of people to test their capacity for collective coordination against that of a single celled organism. The experiment, Being Slime Mould, invites a group of humans to operate as a superorganism, and sets them – it – tasks relating to navigation, communication and cooperation. The aim of the exercise is to engage with some fundamental ontological rules of a nonhuman intelligent life form through playful participation.

Being (or becoming) slime mould is of course an impossibility; we can no more become slime mould than we can become badger or bat. The point of the experiment, therefore, is in the trying: the attempt to put aside human ego and individualism for a moment in order to shift perception towards other ways of seeing, feeling and being. This essay investigates diverse attempts taken to engage philosophically and experientially with the sensory subjectivities of other living entities. Through thought experiments and embodied actions, from the fields of ecology, post-humanities, speculative design and philosophy, I investigate the motivations and methods of human endeavour to engage in being other than we are.

Other Contributors:
EditorTromble, Meredith
EditorOlynyk, Patricia
Official Website: http://www.publicjournal.ca/59-interspecies-communication/
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 1 July 2019
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2019 09:52
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2020 19:50
Item ID: 14815
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/14815

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