Table of Con­tents | http://​dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​7​4​2​/​I​M​A​G​E​.​M​A​.​8​.​3​.10 | PDF

Abstract | This arti­cle revis­its McLuhan's well-known phrase "the mes­sage is the medi­um," and it asks: What if the medi­um is an ani­mal?  McLuhan’s under­stand­ing of his own phrase was pro­found­ly anthro­pocen­tric, as crit­ics have not­ed. But his lega­cy in medi­a­tion the­o­ry com­bined with the insights of inter­dis­ci­pli­nary ani­mal stud­ies make it pos­si­ble to expand the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the phrase.  Media his­to­ry also chal­lenges the anthro­pocen­tric con­cept of the medi­um or the medi­a­tion process.  While the use of ani­mal as medi­um pre­dates the elec­tric media with which McLuhan was con­cerned,  ear­ly com­put­er devices and lat­er mobile tech­nolo­gies have pur­sued users’ engage­ment through didac­ti­cal­ly vis­i­ble iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with/as ani­mal spir­its.  Ani­mals have become "nat­u­ral­ized" along with the indis­pens­abil­i­ty of these devices as essen­tial medi­a­tors of con­nec­tiv­i­ty.  In con­tem­po­rary media arts, we see ani­mals medi­ate and metaphor­i­cal­ly stand for the vital­i­ty of medi­at­ed con­nec­tiv­i­ty.  Rec­og­niz­ing ani­mal fig­ures as medi­a­tors of medi­a­tion shifts the bal­ance, the affect, and the price of what McLuhan called our “shared media sit­u­a­tion.” They are both lur­ing enchant­ments into dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­i­ty and anx­ious pre­me­di­a­tions of ris­ing chal­lenges to anthro­pocen­tric human­ism and its destruc­tive blind spots which con­tin­ue to shape the world.

Résumé | Cet arti­cle revis­ite la phrase bien con­nue de McLuhan « le mes­sage est le médi­um », et il demande : et si le médi­um est un ani­mal? La com­préhen­sion de McLuhan de sa pro­pre phrase était pro­fondé­ment anthro­pocen­trique, comme les cri­tiques l'ont noté. Cepen­dant, son héritage dans le domaine de la théorie de la médi­a­tion, com­biné avec les con­nais­sances des études inter­dis­ci­plinaires sur les ani­maux, per­met d'élargir les pos­si­bil­ités de la phrase. L'histoire des médias remet égale­ment en cause le con­cept anthro­pocen­trique du médi­um ou du proces­sus de médi­a­tion. Bien que l'utilisation de l'animal comme médi­um soit antérieure aux médias élec­triques dont par­lait McLuhan, les pre­miers dis­posi­tifs infor­ma­tiques et les tech­nolo­gies mobiles sub­séquentes ont pour­suivi l'engagement des util­isa­teurs grâce à une iden­ti­fi­ca­tion didac­tique­ment vis­i­ble avec/comme des esprits des ani­maux. Les ani­maux sont devenus « nat­u­ral­isés », par­al­lèle­ment au car­ac­tère indis­pens­able de ces dis­posi­tifs comme médi­a­teurs essen­tiels de la con­nec­tiv­ité. Dans les arts médi­a­tiques con­tem­po­rains, nous voyons les ani­maux faire de la médi­a­tion et métaphorique­ment représen­ter la vital­ité de la con­nec­tiv­ité médiée. Recon­naître les fig­ures ani­males comme médi­a­teurs de la médi­a­tion mod­i­fie l'équilibre, l'effet, et le prix de ce que McLuhan appelle notre « sit­u­a­tion médi­a­tique partagée ». Ils entraî­nent à la fois un ensor­celle­ment vers la con­nec­tiv­ité numérique et des prémédi­ta­tions anx­ieuses des défis crois­sants de l'humanisme anthro­pocen­trique et de ses angles morts destruc­teurs qui con­tin­u­ent à façon­ner le monde.:

Jody Berland | York Unviversity

Assembling the (Non)Human:
The Animal as Medium

In the elec­tric age, when our cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem is tech­no­log­i­cal­ly extend­ed to involve us in the whole of mankind and to incor­po­rate the whole of mankind in us, we nec­es­sar­i­ly par­tic­i­pate, in depth, in the con­se­quences of our every action. It is no longer pos­si­ble to adopt the aloof and dis­as­so­ci­at­ed role of the lit­er­ate West­ern­er. (Under­stand­ing Media 20)

A cyborg world might be about lived social and bod­i­ly real­i­ties in which peo­ple are not afraid of their joint kin­ship with ani­mals and machines, not afraid of per­ma­nent­ly par­tial iden­ti­ties and con­tra­dic­to­ry stand­points. The polit­i­cal strug­gle is to see from both per­spec­tives at once because each reveals both dom­i­na­tions and pos­si­bil­i­ties unimag­in­able from the oth­er van­tage point. (“Cyborg Man­i­festo” 153-4)

The Medium is the Message

In a 1953 arti­cle pub­lished in the Toron­to jour­nal Explo­rations, McLuhan intro­duced an ear­ly ver­sion of the idea that made him famous: “the medi­um is the mes­sage.” Cri­tiquing his con­tem­po­raries’ ten­den­cy to inter­pret media in terms of its con­tent, he wrote: “This assump­tion blinds peo­ple to the aspect of com­mu­ni­ca­tion as par­tic­i­pa­tion in a com­mon sit­u­a­tion. It leads to ignor­ing the form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion as the basic art sit­u­a­tion which is more impor­tant than the basic idea or infor­ma­tion ‘trans­mit­ted’” (Gor­don 56, empha­sis added). This intro­duc­to­ry remark gives us a slight­ly dif­fer­ent por­tal to the phrase, “the medi­um is the mes­sage.” McLuhan does not ask us to focus sole­ly on elec­tron­ic media as a tech­ni­cal assem­blage that con­nects us or mutates our ner­vous sys­tems or mod­i­fies our machinic natures; he asks us to inves­ti­gate how it shapes our “par­tic­i­pa­tion in a com­mon sit­u­a­tion.” Echo­ing what he learned from Harold Innis, he writes: “Every medi­um is in some sense a uni­ver­sal, press­ing toward max­i­mal real­iza­tion. But its expres­sive pres­sures dis­turb exist­ing bal­ances and pat­terns in oth­er media of cul­ture” (Gor­don 86-87). For Innis, such expres­sive pres­sures involve dif­fer­ent tech­ni­cal­ly medi­at­ed con­fig­u­ra­tions of space and time, cen­tres and mar­gins, and their shap­ing of monop­o­lies of knowl­edge. For McLuhan, these con­fig­u­ra­tions are fur­ther delin­eat­ed through tech­ni­cal­ly medi­at­ed struc­tures of embod­i­ment and per­cep­tion that we should exam­ine from both per­spec­tives at once: look­ing at the tech­nol­o­gy and look­ing at the tech­nol­o­gy look­ing at us.

A medi­um does not just trans­mit some­thing from one par­ty to anoth­er, or from one to many; it is part of form­ing a rela­tion­ship or set of rela­tion­ships, while sen­su­al­ly as well as social­ly shap­ing the sub­jects who par­tic­i­pate in it. New media forms engen­der new rela­tion­al process­es. Today, when the tech­ni­cal and aes­thet­ic forms of the media mul­ti­ply so fast that we con­stant­ly have to com­pare and adjust, we may be more aware of this aspect of communication—consider how the press pan­ics about mil­len­ni­als. Per­haps com­men­ta­tors have for­got­ten what the (no) future econ­o­my looks like now to that gen­er­a­tion. In any case, there are still aspects of our shared social sit­u­a­tion of which we remain large­ly unaware.

For McLuhan, “man” is the mea­sure of mean­ing. Yet there is noth­ing in McLuhan’s argu­ment that excludes the non­hu­man ani­mal from the def­i­n­i­tion of a medi­um. Con­sid­er this premise at the sim­plest lev­el: if you have a dog, your rela­tion­ship with neigh­bours and the neigh­bour­hood is dif­fer­ent than if you do not have a dog. You share a par­tic­u­lar “com­mon sit­u­a­tion” with oth­er peo­ple and ani­mals and with the spaces around you when your pet medi­ates your rela­tion­ships with them. When you meet through dogs, the dog is an essen­tial medi­um of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, as evi­denced by the fact that you are more like­ly to know the name of the dog than that of the per­son on the oth­er side of the leash. As you prowl the neigh­bour­hood at var­i­ous times of day and night, you are per­haps act­ing as the ser­vo-mech­a­nism of the four-legged crea­ture lead­ing you on—just as McLuhan says, in one of his more histri­on­ic phras­es, that humans act as the ser­vo-mech­a­nisms of the machine world. As you stop to greet oth­er dogs and peo­ple, you become a lit­tle bit more dog-like in your aware­ness of your envi­ron­ment, although becom­ing-ani­mal in this milieu does not involve the free­ing of uncon­scious ener­gies and instincts with which Deleuzians gen­er­al­ly equate the phrase. Rather, we are, fol­low­ing Har­away (“Com­pan­ion Species Man­i­festo”) sim­ply rec­og­niz­ing the reci­procity of bod­ies through which humans and ani­mals become com­pan­ion species.

In a dif­fer­ent but not unre­lat­ed man­ner, you share a com­mon sit­u­a­tion with peo­ple to whom you are con­nect­ed online who post cat pic­tures that you like to view and share. Much has been writ­ten about this activ­i­ty, and the way that cats lure so many peo­ple in to the space behind the screen (“Cat and Mouse”). For exam­ple, the Face­book page “Cats Against Cap­i­tal­ism” offers a space to share and com­ment on cat pic­tures, metaphors, lives, and deaths as a gate­way to friend­ly sol­i­dar­i­ty and ban­ter in des­per­ate times, mak­ing com­radery, cats, com­e­dy, and pol­i­tics cre­ative­ly inter­change­able for me and thou­sands of oth­er mem­bers. Who or what is the sub­ject here? You took the pic­ture, the cat is the object, the screen is the subject—or is it the oth­er way around? Indeed, “When I am play­ing with my cat, how do I know the cat is not play­ing with me?” (Der­ri­da 7). The cats medi­ate your rela­tion­ship with the screen as much as the screen is medi­at­ing your rela­tion­ship with the cats; both are medi­at­ing your con­nec­tion to a com­mu­ni­ty of amenable cat and human com­rades who are talk­ing or not talk­ing about the world. There is more than one his­to­ry haunt­ing this activ­i­ty, whether as tragedy or farce. His­tor­i­cal­ly, cats were seen as “famil­iars” pos­sess­ing the souls of women, and like the so-called witch­es they were tor­tured or killed by Chris­tians for their puta­tive car­ry­ing or medi­at­ing Satan. This medi­a­tion has tak­en a dif­fer­ent form in the mod­ern age. Pic­tures of ani­mals have launched new elec­tron­ic devices since mov­ing pic­tures were first made in the 1890s. The first mov­ing pic­ture, made in 1889, fea­tured a run­ning horse; in 1984, both Éti­enne-Jules Marey and Thomas Edi­son made short films of cats in motion.[1] Since then, the abil­i­ty of ani­mals to evoke and pro­voke the human com­pul­sion to con­nect has been a cru­cial prod­uct of the growth of social media. We may have become a new form of pos­sessed sub­ject repro­duc­ing altered human and non­hu­man ani­mal pop­u­la­tion man­age­ment strate­gies at a micro-level.

Rather than attend to the fine­ly tex­tured and often bewil­der­ing phe­nom­e­nolo­gies of these expe­ri­ences here, I want to explore more close­ly what it means to claim that the medi­um is the mes­sage and can even be an ani­mal. What does intro­duc­ing ani­mals mean for medi­a­tion the­o­ry? What does McLuhan’s own medi­um the­o­ry teach us about human-ani­mal rela­tions? What light might this dis­cus­sion shed on our con­ven­tion­al under­stand­ings of human-ani­mal rela­tions and differences?

The Animal is a Medium

McLuhan’s “New Media as Polit­i­cal Forms” appeared short­ly after anoth­er arti­cle he pub­lished ear­li­er that year on media and art; both demon­strate the emer­gence of his medi­um the­o­ry. Like Wal­ter Ben­jamin, McLuhan sought a deep­er con­nec­tion between media as art form and media as a polit­i­cal process, a con­nec­tion that could only be explained by ref­er­ence to how our inter­ac­tions with media tech­nolo­gies change our per­cep­tions of space and time, our sen­so­ry expe­ri­ences, and our rela­tions with one anoth­er. McLuhan under­stood the “expres­sive pres­sures” of a medi­um in terms of its mate­ri­al­i­ty, how that mate­ri­al­i­ty shapes or reshapes users’ sen­so­ry and hap­tic dimen­sions, and how it inter­acts with oth­er media with­in a chang­ing media ecol­o­gy. As he elab­o­rates in Under­stand­ing Media, each medi­um absorbs and extends our body and our atten­tion in spe­cif­ic ways. One could apply this prin­ci­ple equal­ly to clothes, cam­eras, cars, or cats. We live among them in a state of com­plex mutu­al medi­a­tion, not just as indi­vid­u­als but also as inter­ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in a “com­mon sit­u­a­tion” of media involve­ment. McLuhan used the light bulb to illus­trate this point: it has no con­tent of its own, but it extends our shared envi­ron­ment into the night and alters our per­cep­tions and struc­tures of par­tic­i­pa­tion. This exten­sion of light into night cre­ates new affor­dances and new chal­lenges. Medi­at­ed in new ways, the human body no longer coin­cides with itself. With this under­stand­ing of the medi­at­ed human com­prised of its rela­tion­ships, McLuhan took a first step towards posthumanism.

Media the­o­rist Friedrich Kit­tler was strong­ly influ­enced by McLuhan’s ideas, but drew a sharp divid­ing line between them on the issue of what he per­ceived as McLuhan’s anthro­pocen­trism. For McLuhan, media are the “exten­sions of man” (Under­stand­ing Media). As Geof­frey Winthrop-Young sug­gests, “…this pros­thet­ic log­ic has its point of ori­gin in the human body and ner­vous sys­tem. From Kittler’s point of view, McLuhan still sub­scribes to the anthro­pocen­tric delu­sion that man is the mea­sure of all media, even when the lat­ter reshape the for­mer” (van den Oevre and Winthrop Young 235). Yet Kittler’s cri­tique of anthro­pocen­trism does not extend to a con­sid­er­a­tion of non­hu­man species. Like McLuhan, he over­looks the ways that non­hu­man bod­ies expe­ri­ence the world, medi­ate our rela­tion­ship with tech­nol­o­gy, and change our under­stand­ing of life. Kit­tler does not pro­pose that if a train or light bulb can be a medi­um, so can a horse or a giraffe. Even Claude Shan­non, author of the so-called “moth­er of all mod­els” of infor­ma­tion the­o­ry (Wikipedia con­trib­u­tors, “Infor­ma­tion The­o­ry”) would have acknowl­edged hors­es as instru­ments of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Infor­ma­tion the­o­ry stud­ies the quan­tifi­ca­tion, stor­age and com­mu­ni­ca­tion of infor­ma­tion. Hors­es trans­port­ed peo­ple and mail for cen­turies before the faster, auto­mat­ed “horse­pow­er” machines were invent­ed to replace them. Just as prob­lems with data com­pres­sion could intro­duce “noise” into the trans­mis­sion of infor­ma­tion, a prob­lem with weath­er and roads could chal­lenge the effi­cien­cy of the pony express or the leg­i­bil­i­ty of the mail. The trans­mis­sion of infor­ma­tion can arguably include and even depend upon a giraffe, or a fox, or a cat, whose rela­tions with humans have been thor­ough­ly medi­at­ed and mul­ti­plied by com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies that are in turn thor­ough­ly medi­at­ed and changed by all the cats (“Ani­mal and/as Medi­um;” “Cat and Mouse”) Are YouTube cats re-enact­ing or even fetishiz­ing some pre-tech­no­log­i­cal social­i­ty with­in the con­text of changed nature-tech­nol­o­gy configurations?

We require a larg­er frame for this inter­pre­tive process. Ani­mals were among the first medi­a­tors of social rela­tions between humans. In some pre-cap­i­tal­ist soci­eties, the bod­ies of cows or goats were exchanged between fam­i­lies, often for wives, while in oth­ers, kin­ship rela­tions were struc­tured by the totemic enact­ment of ani­mal spir­its. As food, prop­er­ty, com­pan­ions, or trib­utes, ani­mals com­prise a sig­nif­i­cant part of the mate­ri­al­i­ty and mean­ing that con­sti­tutes like­ness and dif­fer­ence in all soci­eties. Ani­mals appear in all foun­da­tion­al reli­gious texts and played a notable role in the trans­for­ma­tion of poly­the­ism to monothe­ism. His­tor­i­cal­ly, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of spe­cif­ic species, includ­ing cats, cows, bears, fox­es, and goats, have embod­ied and per­formed sym­bol­ic roles with­in strong­ly hier­ar­chi­cal social sys­tems. Such symbols/bodies have been mobi­lized to per­form and legit­i­mate prac­tices of human hier­ar­chy, con­nec­tion, and violence.

Ani­mals have not just served as medi­a­tions between peo­ple; as the his­to­ry of the horse reminds us, they are also medi­a­tions between peo­ple and machines. A horse and cart can no more be sep­a­rat­ed than a trib­ute giraffe from the ship that car­ried it to an emper­or (“Attend­ing the Giraffe”). Under­stand­ing ani­mals as medi­a­tors in the inter­play between these mutu­al­ly recon­fig­ur­ing machines and humans is dif­fer­ent from view­ing ani­mals as con­tent trans­mit­ted via a media tech­nol­o­gy. Sure­ly a horse or giraffe extends our capac­i­ty for rela­tion­al­i­ty or changes our “com­mon sit­u­a­tion” dif­fer­ent­ly than a lamp does, even when it is housed in a menagerie or a zoo rather than trav­el­ling from one place to anoth­er. Just as sure­ly, one must take the his­to­ry of the beaver into account in exam­in­ing the maps of Cana­da or the fash­ions and per­fumes of the 19th cen­tu­ry. Many of our medi­at­ing materials—from writ­ing imple­ments to trans­port vehi­cles, clothes, scents, flavours, and even film, as Nicole Shukin has shown (2009)—have been ren­dered from ani­mal bodies.

The idea of media affor­dances and the way they alter our shared envi­ron­ment takes on a par­tic­u­lar inten­si­ty when faced with our dam­aged cul­ture-nature habi­tus. We do not think of ani­mals as media because we think of media as tech­nol­o­gy and ani­mals as nature with­in an epis­te­mol­o­gy that still insists on sep­a­rat­ing them. So much of what we habit­u­al­ly con­sid­er to be “nat­ur­al” is shaped, though, by inter­ac­tions with human and tech­no­log­i­cal activ­i­ties and inter­ven­tions. It is easy enough to point out the human agency that con­tributed to form­ing an ani­mal such as a dog, or more broad­ly to see how plants, ani­mals, foods, and house­holds are shaped by human activ­i­ties. Indeed, nature is always-already nature-cul­ture; the world of nature is equal­ly co-con­sti­tut­ed by our cul­ture and tech­nol­o­gy. These con­cepts are so porous that our under­stand­ing of nature-cul­ture has been thor­ough­ly com­pli­cat­ed, espe­cial­ly in the last sev­er­al decades.

This fray­ing of the bound­aries of lan­guage cor­re­sponds to a process in which "nature and tech­nol­o­gy leak, spill over, blend into each oth­er. A num­ber of neologisms—NatureCulture (Donna Har­away), Medi­aNa­ture (my own), Medi­ana­tures (Jus­si Parik­ka), entan­gled ontol­ogy (Karen Barad)—have been pro­posed to high­light the chang­ing rela­tion­ship between these two domains, whose reper­cus­sions and impli­ca­tions have also long begun to inform debates over the new knowl­edge for­ma­tions" (Anger­er 18). Humans con­tin­u­ous­ly shape nature-cul­tures and the para­me­ters of non­hu­man life. The reverse is also the case; none of us can be human with­out our exten­sions. When I think about media as an exten­sion of myself in per­son­al terms, I also think about what is at the end of my hands: a pen, a musi­cal or alpha­bet­i­cal key­board, my cat’s fur, my dog’s nose. With­out them, my hands are incom­plete; I am not-me. That is to say, I am not mod­ern. When forms of medi­a­tion change, whether from cow to coin, horse to car, bird-song to record­ing, live music to gramo­phone, paint­ing to pho­to­graph, type­writer to com­put­er, pet cat to Grumpy cat, we change too.

It is not just the his­to­ry of ani­mal sac­ri­fice, dis­place­ment, or dis­mem­ber­ment that invites us to look at the ani­mal as a medi­um. In the mid-2000s, I was research­ing the tele­vi­sion weath­er fore­cast as a post-rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al assem­blage of colo­nial-spa­tial-opti­cal-dig­i­tal-envi­ron­men­tal mate­ri­als. Giv­en the inter­de­pen­den­cy of these lucra­tive insti­tu­tions and the flawed accu­ra­cy of the fore­cast, I con­clud­ed that the tele­vi­sion fore­cast was best seen as a cul­tur­al tech­nol­o­gy of risk in every­day life (“Ani­mal and/as Medi­um”). Then the del­uge of cat images began to flood my inbox. By 2004, the visu­al field of the net­work was mor­ph­ing from a mélange of land­scapes, logos, dig­i­tal graph­ics, maps, celebri­ties, babies, and angels to a cacoph­o­ny of cats (“Cat and Mouse” 8). Why are there so many cats on the Inter­net? For some crit­ics, vir­tu­al ani­mals com­pen­sate for the loss of our direct con­tact with a vari­ety of species in the ani­mal world. In “Why Look at Ani­mals?” Berg­er writes: “What man has to do in order to tran­scend the ani­mal, to tran­scend the mechan­i­cal with­in himself…is often anguish. And so, by com­par­i­son and despite the mod­el of the machine, the ani­mal seems to him to enjoy a kind of inno­cence. The ani­mal has been emp­tied of expe­ri­ence and secrets, and this new invent­ed ‘inno­cence’ begins to pro­vide in man a kind of nos­tal­gia” (12). In Elec­tric Animal—Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife, Aki­ra Lip­pitt reit­er­ates Berger’s claim that ani­mal imagery cir­cu­lates in elec­tron­ic media as com­pen­sa­tion for the loss of direct encoun­ters with ani­mals. While there is clear­ly some truth to this idea, it does not explain the func­tion of such com­pen­sa­tion in the con­stan­cy of dig­i­tal ani­mal motifs as com­mer­cial sym­bols of tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion. These images restore some of the fan­tasies of child­hood, mak­ing new media appear to be friend­ly and anthro­po­mor­phi­cal­ly famil­iar to young users who are more like­ly to adopt new media tools.

Gra­ham Meik­le and Sher­man Young argue that LOL cats are videos not only for “cre­ative audi­ences” to look at but also to make and share for them­selves. Mak­ing their own LOL cats “bridges the gap between doing noth­ing and doing some­thing.” (115). To inter­cede between down­load­ing and upload­ing some video is to engage in “par­tic­i­pa­to­ry cul­ture” (ibid) Indeed, McLuhan argued in Under­stand­ing Media that any­one can be an artist, or rather, that art is what­ev­er you can get away with—a favourite sen­ti­ment of the blo­gos­phere. Yet once again, this does not account ful­ly for why ani­mal imagery in par­tic­u­lar engen­ders such wide­spread online par­tic­i­pa­tion. Film crit­ic Jonathan Burt, reject­ing Berger’s focus on the view­ing of ani­mals as failed com­pen­sa­tion, sug­gests that the image of the ani­mal evokes and ques­tions the rela­tion­ship between visu­al­i­ty and life that lies at the heart of film itself. The vir­tu­al-cat phe­nom­e­non brings to the fore­front a vital but per­haps pre­vi­ous­ly less vis­i­ble tri­an­gu­la­tion of humans, tech­nol­o­gy, and the so-called nat­ur­al world that now sat­u­rates our planet.

To dig into the log­ics of a tech­no­cul­tur­al object or phe­nom­e­non is to embark on an exca­va­tion of the present. It involves out­lin­ing the var­i­ous mate­r­i­al and tech­no­log­i­cal tra­jec­to­ries that have led to this present; it also involves acknowl­edg­ing what Ray­mond Williams called the “struc­ture of feel­ing” through which peo­ple embrace these objects and process­es.  We need to think  through these process­es with Williams and McLuhan togeth­er, rather than con­tin­ue to accept the crit­i­cal oppo­si­tion between them that once dom­i­nat­ed cul­tur­al stud­ies. Tech­nol­o­gy and affect come togeth­er in com­pli­cat­ed par­tic­u­lar­i­ties through which their pasts and presents are con­tin­u­ous­ly chan­neled by var­i­ous pow­er dynam­ics, and thus extend­ed and artic­u­lat­ed through the trends and objects that arise. It is dif­fi­cult to for­mu­late clear­ly what hap­pens when McLuhan’s medi­um the­o­ry is bounced against con­cepts like “the ani­mal.” Our the­o­ret­i­cal lan­guage, like the imagery I am describ­ing, gives vital­i­ty and emer­gence to media as though they are or were ani­mals already. As tech­nol­o­gy becomes more mobile, more respon­sive, more appar­ent­ly autonomous, we humans, as Har­away famous­ly put it,  become increas­ing­ly inert.

When you con­nect to peo­ple online with peo­ple who post cat pic­tures that you like to view and share, you are shar­ing and help­ing to con­sti­tute a "com­mon sit­u­a­tion" as McLuhan put it. Much has been writ­ten about this activ­i­ty, and the way that cats lure so many peo­ple in to the space behind the screen (cf. Berland, “Cat and Mouse”). This sit­u­a­tion is formed from tech­no­log­i­cal and affec­tive ingre­di­ents which, like any sociotech­ni­cal object, meets in the act of its con­sti­tu­tion. Unlike many sociotech­ni­cal objects, though, its mate­ri­al­i­ty is elusive.

As Wern­er Her­zog observes in his doc­u­men­tary Cave of For­got­ten Dreams, cave draw­ings over 30,000 years old already look cin­e­mat­ic in how they cap­ture the flu­id motion of ani­mal bod­ies. The draw­ing of an ani­mal in motion was the first metaphor for life and its mys­ter­ies. The asso­ci­a­tion of ani­mal­i­ty, move­ment, and life in these appar­ent­ly prim­i­tive lines evokes both human con­trol over life and the vital­i­ty of life that is always on the brink of elud­ing such con­trol. It is pos­si­ble that this ten­sion is trans­mit­ted in one way when the image is still and anoth­er when the image is mov­ing. Moder­ni­ty made images of ani­mals in motion cen­tral to exper­i­ments and shifts in imag­ing tech­nolo­gies, evi­dent in Ead­weard Muybridge’s stud­ies on motion in the 1870s and his zooprax­is­cope, the first movie pro­jec­tor. In short, the rela­tion­ship between ani­mal­i­ty, life, motion, and mime­sis extends much fur­ther back in human his­to­ry than the age of elec­tron­ic repro­duc­tion, but it is clear that elec­tron­ic tech­nol­o­gy affects these process­es, how they inter­act, and how artists respond.

We must ask not so much what these ani­mals mean, but what they are doing in terms of the envi­ron­ments or assem­blages in which they appear. “Our con­ven­tion­al response to all media,” McLuhan writes, “name­ly that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the tech­no­log­i­cal idiot. For the ‘con­tent’ of a medi­um is like the juicy piece of meat car­ried by the bur­glar to dis­tract the watch­dog of the mind” (Under­stand­ing Media 18).

McLuhan uses this metaphor to con­test his con­tem­po­raries’ fail­ure to under­stand elec­tron­ic media in terms of their spe­cif­ic forms and mate­ri­als, their modes of sen­so­ry medi­a­tion, their alter­ation of space and time, and thus the rela­tions and per­cep­tions of view­ers. Focused on the con­tent of a medi­um, we might not under­stand what a tech­nol­o­gy does to or with us; with­out the robber’s meat, the watch­dog might notice what the cats are up to. In any case the cats have gone elsewhere.

Like our screens, our lan­guage is full of ani­mal metaphors. McLuhan chose the watch­dog metaphor to rep­re­sent how the mind works when encoun­ter­ing and yet not per­ceiv­ing the media envi­ron­ment despite the fact that the media envi­ron­ment he is describ­ing is an exten­sion of the human brain. For John Durham Peters, how­ev­er, the ani­mal is not a metaphor: “Media the­o­ry con­cerns the dif­fer­ent sense ratios with which mind inter­acts with world and the var­i­ous worlds that come into being” (60). The sens­es that con­cern him are the crus­taceans’, and the envi­ron­ment that con­cerns him is the ocean. Tak­ing up the insight that “the medi­um is the mes­sage” with­out aban­don­ing the dogs, cats, squids, and hors­es (or the dead ani­mal the rob­ber car­ries to dis­tract the dog) means acknowl­edg­ing, as Peters has, the degree to which ani­mals chal­lenge and expand our under­stand­ings of medi­a­tion whether they occu­py aque­ous, dig­i­tal, or philo­soph­i­cal environments.

Ani­mals expand not only our under­stand­ings of medi­a­tion but also our spaces and plat­forms of medi­a­tion. For more than a cen­tu­ry, ani­mals have pro­vid­ed the first images in the cumu­la­tive unveil­ing of the plat­forms, spaces, and prac­tices of elec­tron­ic media. The ani­mal medi­ates the screen while we focus on the screen ani­mat­ing the ani­mal. Mov­ing pic­tures were launched with hors­es and cats. Amer­i­can ani­ma­tion began in 1913 with the image of Ger­tie the Dinosaur strolling out of a cave, drawn by Wind­sor McK­ay of Nemo fame. The graph­ics iden­ti­fy­ing ear­ly soft­ware prod­ucts includ­ed pen­guins, mon­keys, birds, and snakes. The first ama­teur video post­ed to YouTube was shot at the zoo; the sec­ond and third were cat videos pro­duced by soft­ware engineer/graphic design­er Steven Chen, titled Stinky the Cat, I & 2. YouTube was launched with zoos and cats; the iPhone 5 was launched with a GIF of a splash­ing ele­phant; the anti-spy­ware encryp­tion tech­nol­o­gy recent­ly used to open an iPhone 6 was first used against an ani­mal-rights cam­paign in 2002. Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion hard­ware and soft­ware, com­put­ers, and new mobile tech­nolo­gies have all put forth new prod­ucts with styl­ized images of ani­mals. In short, ani­mal images are cen­tral when­ev­er the new “com­mon sit­u­a­tions” of elec­tron­ic spaces and devices appear (Berland 2014). In the gov­er­nance of human pop­u­la­tions, the more dis­trib­uted we become, con­scious­ly or oth­er­wise, the more the lines between human, machine, and ani­mal become porous and affec­tive­ly charged. Evi­dent­ly the pres­ence of vir­tu­al ani­mals in new media shapes (or at least is per­ceived to shape) human users’ feel­ings about these inter­ac­tions. Com­ment­ing on McLuhan’s work on the occa­sion of its half-cen­te­nary, Richard Grusin writes: “In the first decades of the 21st cen­tu­ry, we find our­selves in the midst of a shift in our dom­i­nant cul­tur­al log­ic of medi­a­tion away from a pre­dom­i­nant­ly visu­al, late 20th-cen­tu­ry focus on reme­di­a­tion toward a more embod­ied affec­tiv­i­ty of pre­me­di­a­tion gen­er­at­ed by the mobile, social­ly net­worked media every­day of the 21st cen­tu­ry” (56) The great­est con­tri­bu­tion of Under­stand­ing Media, Grusin sug­gests, is “to turn our atten­tion away from a pri­mar­i­ly visu­al analy­sis of media and toward an under­stand­ing of how media oper­ate as objects with­in the world, impact­ing both the human sen­so­ri­um and the non­hu­man envi­ron­ment alike” (56).

Ani­mals enact and sym­bol­ize this affec­tive turn. As Grusin and oth­ers sug­gest, affect is per­haps a sub­tler (if no less debat­ed) con­cept for talk­ing about how peo­ple are touched by media encoun­ters than McLuhan’s spec­u­la­tive cyber­net­ic phys­i­ol­o­gy. Locat­ing the ani­mal-medi­um con­nec­tion in the con­text of 21st-cen­tu­ry tech­nol­o­gy also high­lights its tan­gi­ble rela­tion­ship with risk cul­ture. If cats, dogs, ele­phants, and oth­er ani­mals are pre­me­di­at­ing our so-called new tech­nolo­gies, they are do just issue an invi­ta­tion into the por­tal of mobile dig­i­tal com­put­ing but also pro­vide a means to actu­al­ize and rec­on­cile con­tra­dic­to­ry respons­es to the risky worlds we have con­struct­ed. With nature and tech­nol­o­gy so close­ly inter­twined, the embod­ied affect of being-with vir­tu­al ani­mals can be explored with some of the same con­cepts that have been used to ana­lyze the human sen­so­ri­um mutat­ing in inter­ac­tion with elec­tron­ic and dig­i­tal technologies.

Mediating Risk

For McLuhan, “The body, in sum, is a capac­i­ty for rela­tion­al­i­ty that lit­er­al­ly requires medi­a­tion and that, in a sense, can­not be con­cep­tu­al­ized with­out it” (Mitchell and Hansen xiii ). The human body’s reliance on tech­nol­o­gy is pre­cise­ly what makes humans human. This dance of medi­at­ed becom­ing does not only involve tech­nol­o­gy; under­stand­ing ani­mals as medi­a­tors between humans and our tech­nolo­gies is dif­fer­ent than view­ing them as con­tent in the media milieu. This dis­tinc­tion allows us to talk about the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ani­mals as a form of risk man­age­ment. The ani­mals are doing something—mediating—while metaphor­i­cal­ly stand­ing for the vital­i­ty of this activ­i­ty. This dou­ble duty con­veys the impres­sion that the sym­bol­ic, the mate­r­i­al, and the vital can coin­cide in the world beyond the screen just as they do in the body of the ani­mal. Describ­ing this dynam­ic as a form of risk man­age­ment play­ing out in the space and time of human-tech­nol­o­gy inter­ac­tions is sig­nif­i­cant­ly dif­fer­ent than talk­ing about the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ani­mals. It is also dif­fer­ent from talk­ing about how peo­ple rep­re­sent the risks ani­mals them­selves face in their inter­ac­tions with humans and human tech­nolo­gies, although these may well be con­nect­ed. There is no doubt that the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ani­mals is con­nect­ed to the well­be­ing of ani­mals, but under­stand­ing how they are relat­ed or explor­ing this rela­tion­ship artis­ti­cal­ly calls for a fuller and less anthro­pocen­tric the­o­ry of mediation.

If we con­sid­er risk as some­thing that aris­es and is man­aged through process­es of mediation—rather than think­ing about risk in terms of the “con­tent,” such as pic­tures of endan­gered ani­mals or poi­soned places—what are the impli­ca­tions for re-exam­in­ing the human-tech­nol­o­gy medi­a­tion so cen­tral to McLuhan’s con­cerns? Risk takes many forms, finan­cial, and social as well as bio­log­i­cal. The ani­mal fig­ures cir­cu­lat­ed by Apple, Fido, Bell, and Telus invite poten­tial mobile phone buy­ers to join a tribe in which small devices are semi­ot­i­cal­ly and affec­tive­ly inter­change­able with small ani­mals. Every­one loads their devices with ani­mal images, while ani­mals them­selves are increas­ing­ly linked to or fol­lowed by elec­tron­ic devices. Both cell phones and cats cul­ti­vate atten­tion that extends from our hands and arms; they are exten­sions of us, they extend us into some­thing, some “com­mon sit­u­a­tion” that is not-us. Such con­nec­tion both enhances and depletes our pow­ers. These dig­i­tal-ani­mal hybrids emerge with­in a cul­ture in which the use of tech­nol­o­gy requires ever more devel­oped tech­niques and con­stant inno­va­tions, or what Edward Ten­ner calls “the per­for­ma­tive use of tech­nol­o­gy, the skills and know-how that go into the effec­tive oper­a­tion of devices” (4). Giv­en the com­mer­cial and gov­ern­men­tal con­texts of con­trol soci­ety in which such inno­va­tion occurs, it is cru­cial that users want to adapt to these new tech­niques, that they feel wel­come in the changed envi­ron­ment in which these tech­nolo­gies appear, and that they respond to them as simul­ta­ne­ous­ly linked in to them and free from the impli­ca­tion or effects of being so con­fined. Ani­mals are part of a regime that stim­u­lates our inter­ac­tion with dig­i­tal pro­cess­ing, col­lects data about that inter­ac­tion, for­mu­lates new com­mu­nica­tive and sur­veil­lance strate­gies based on that data, and shapes our per­cep­tu­al and cul­tur­al capac­i­ties in ways that feel nat­ur­al. Con­sid­er how chil­dren are inun­dat­ed with images of hap­py ani­mals that have noth­ing to do with habi­tat or strug­gle from the minute they can see. If we are inter­est­ed in how media (in the case of McLuhan) or ani­mals (in the case of ani­mal stud­ies schol­ars) invite us to look back at our­selves dif­fer­ent­ly, what do these images tell us, truth­ful or oth­er­wise, about their own condition?

The evo­ca­tion of the ani­mal-dig­i­tal con­nec­tion runs across the sur­faces of cul­ture: dig­i­tal ani­mals, logos, art projects, GIFs, stop-motion pho­tog­ra­phy, taxi­dermy, car­toons. It is no longer strange to see an ani­mal talk­ing; the his­to­ry of car­toons is based upon this premise, although we no longer real­ly think of them as ani­mals, if indeed view­ers of alle­gor­i­cal or anthro­po­mor­phic ani­mals ever did. Dig­i­tal pic­tures of people’s pets trav­el dai­ly through social media while dig­i­tal pets delight their “own­ers” with presents and remind them to stay con­nect­ed to their mobile phones in case they miss one. Fig­ures com­prised of bits of ani­mals, machines, and humans can be found every­where from cell phones to mil­i­tary labs to art gal­leries to polit­i­cal Twit­ter posts, from high the­o­ry to children’s tele­vi­sion. How­ev­er, to learn about the real­i­ties of wildlife or ani­mals in con­fine­ment or fac­to­ry farms requires doc­u­men­taries and web­cams. This pro­lif­er­a­tion con­firms our fas­ci­na­tion with ani­mate life and the plea­sure and anx­i­ety of wit­ness­ing the merg­ing of bod­ies, tech­nolo­gies, and non­hu­man species. It is not sur­pris­ing that the con­tem­po­rary vir­tu­al menagerie includes not only pets but also mon­sters, which explic­it­ly chal­lenge the species barrier.

In the inter­ac­tive hybrid­i­ty of dig­i­tal space, the dis­tinc­tion between sculp­ture, genet­ics, ani­mals, and tech­nolo­gies, as well as those between gal­leries and lab­o­ra­to­ries, inner and out­er space, or infor­ma­tion and intel­li­gence, has begun to unrav­el under the didac­tic log­ic of emer­gence. The exper­i­men­tal rela­tion­ship between life-like behav­iour and sys­tem activ­i­ty is often struc­tured as metaphor­i­cal, as when com­put­er-con­trolled objects are pro­grammed to look or move like life forms such as ani­mals or fish. The prac­tice of mod­el­ling soft­ware design on evo­lu­tion­ary and bio­log­i­cal struc­tures goes back as far as the 1950s, so the rela­tion­ship is actu­al­ly not just metaphor­i­cal. Mul­ti­me­dia artist Luis Bec cre­at­ed the term “zoosys­temic” to describe his art prac­tice of “dynam­ic mor­pho­gen­e­sis and dig­i­tal bio-mod­el­ing” (qtd. in Wil­son 346). “Cybor­gian” refers to when the qua­si-object is com­prised of both live and inert mat­ter; “A-life” is con­fig­ured to be both autonomous and evo­lu­tion­ary. In such exper­i­ments, the art work comes to stand for evo­lu­tion, which Thomas Ray con­ceives as an autonomous “cre­ative process, which act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly, has pro­duced liv­ing forms of great beau­ty and com­plex­i­ty” (qtd. in Wil­son 353). The search for self-orga­niz­ing sys­tems is an impor­tant part of this same his­to­ry, and rais­es some of the same ques­tions. Life forms do not only evolve autonomous­ly; the ide­al of autonomous self-pro­duc­tion has a par­tic­u­lar salience in evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gy, with its inves­ti­ga­tion of how a species sus­tains itself, but the fas­ci­na­tion with this idea also speaks to the pow­er of a neolib­er­al imag­i­nary. If the agents in a par­tic­u­lar bio­log­i­cal process or species his­to­ry include oth­er species, humans, and tech­nolo­gies, that is to say if they inhab­it an envi­ron­ment, then these life forms are inescapably and increas­ing­ly inter­de­pen­dent with dynam­ics of gov­ern­men­tal­i­ty and pow­er. Even if this were not the case, even if McLuhan or Fou­cault or Har­away or Marx have noth­ing to teach us, we know that life forms and species are fun­da­men­tal­ly inter­de­pen­dent and that they co-evolve with oth­ers with­in their envi­ron­ments, with­in an eco­log­i­cal process, whether that ecol­o­gy con­tains media tech­nol­o­gy or not.

McLuhan invites us to look at our­selves as changed beings from the per­spec­tive of the media through which we con­struct and view the world; crit­i­cal ani­mal stud­ies schol­ars invite us to look at our­selves from the imag­ined per­spec­tives of non­hu­man ani­mals attempt­ing to sur­vive as we watch, cud­dle, or eat them. Think­ing of the ani­mal as a medi­a­tor and not just the con­tent of a medi­um allows us to begin to answer ques­tions about what they see, look­ing back, and what they are telling us. If a medi­um cre­ates a “com­mon sit­u­a­tion” in human cul­ture, as McLuhan put it, that is, if a medi­um does not “mean” things but “does” things, then a post-anthro­pocen­tric inter­pre­ta­tion of medi­a­tion must acknowl­edge that human-tech­nol­o­gy rela­tion­ships rely on the pres­ence of ani­mals in their var­i­ous mate­r­i­al and sym­bol­ic reit­er­a­tions as much as they do upon their human-cre­at­ed tech­no­log­i­cal exten­sions. We need to look more close­ly at the sup­pres­sion and exploita­tion of the non­hu­man and how it medi­ates our media prac­tices and knowl­edges. With their con­tra­dic­to­ry evo­ca­tions of inno­cence, Dar­win­ian strug­gle, child­hood, and the lib­er­a­tion of repressed impuls­es, these medi­at­ing ani­mal fig­ures can be seen as a strate­gic means to shift the bal­ance, the affect, and the price of what McLuhan called our shared media sit­u­a­tion. They are also pre­me­di­a­tions of the ris­ing chal­lenge from non­hu­mans and oth­er oth­ers to anthro­pocen­tric human­ism and its destruc­tive blind spots as it con­tin­ues to shape the world.


This arti­cle is a think­ing through of my book Vir­tu­al Menageries, forth­com­ing, MIT Press/Leonardo Books. It is a spin­off from my piece, “Attend­ing the Giraffe,” Human­i­malia: Jour­nal of Human-Ani­mal Inter­face Stud­ies, Vol. 9, No. 1, Fall 2017, http://​www​.depauw​.edu/​h​u​m​a​n​i​m​a​l​ia/. Thanks to Human­i­malia edi­tor Ist­van Csic­sery-Ron­ay for his kind per­mis­sion to bor­row and extend these ideas here.

[1] A short his­to­ry of the first motion pic­ture nar­rat­ed by Ker­ry Deck­er includes a clip of mov­ing hors­es: https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​d​D​m​A​x​d​L​v​dQ4. Both Éti­enne-Jules Marey and Thomas Edi­son entered the field with films of cats. Marey’s film Falling Cat (1894) can be viewed at https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​X​q​L​9​s​i​G​D​eBA. Edison’s film, “Box­ing Cats” (also 1894) can be viewed at https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​k​5​2​p​L​v​V​m​mkU.

Works Cited

Aloi, Gio­van­ni. Art and Ani­mals. I.B. Tau­ris, 2011.

Anger­er, Marie-Louise. Ecol­o­gy of Affect: Inten­sive Milieus and Con­tin­gent Encoun­ters. Meson Press, 2017.

Bak­er, Steve. Pic­tur­ing the Beast: Ani­mals, Iden­ti­ty, and Rep­re­sen­ta­tion. New ed. Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois Press, 2001.

Berg­er, John. “Why Look at Ani­mals?” in About Look­ing. 1980. Reprint. Vin­tage, 1992.

Berland, Jody. “A Visitor’s Guide to the Vir­tu­al Menagerie.” Anten­nae: Vir­tu­al Ani­mals, edit­ed by Gio­van­ni, Aloi. Anten­nae: The Jour­nal of Nature in Visu­al Cul­ture, no. 30, 2014. http://​www​.anten​nae​.org​.uk/​b​a​c​k​-​i​s​s​u​e​s​-​2​0​1​4​/​4​5​8​6​8​0​6​446.

---. “Attend­ing the Giraffe,” Human­i­malia: Jour­nal of Human-Ani­mal Inter­face Stud­ies, vol. 9, no. 1, Fall 2017, http://​www​.depauw​.edu/​h​u​m​a​n​i​m​a​l​ia/.

---. “Ani­mal and/as Medi­um: Sym­bol­ic Work in Com­mu­nica­tive Regimes.” The Glob­al South, vol. 3, no. 1, 2009, pp. 42–65.

---. “Cat and Mouse: Icono­graph­ics of Nature and Desire.” Cul­tur­al Stud­ies, vol. 22, no. 3-4, 2008, pp. 431-54.

---. “Map­ping Space: Imag­in­ing Tech­nolo­gies and the Plan­e­tary Body.” North of Empire: Essays on the Cul­tur­al Tech­nolo­gies of Space. Duke Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2009.

Burt, Jonathan. Ani­mals in Film. Reak­tion Books Ltd, 2002.

Der­ri­da, Jacques. The Ani­mal That There­fore I Am. Ford­ham Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2008.

Gor­don, W. Ter­rence. McLuhan: A Guide for the Per­plexed. Blooms­bury Aca­d­e­m­ic, 2010.

Grusin, Richard. “Medi­a­tion Is the Mes­sage.” Jour­nal of Visu­al Cul­ture, vol. 13, no. 1, 2014, pp. 55–57.

Har­away, Don­na J. “A Cyborg Man­i­festo: Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy, and Social­ist-Fem­i­nism in the Late Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry.” Simi­ans, Cyborgs and Women: The Rein­ven­tion of Nature. Free Asso­ci­a­tion Books, 1991, pp. 149–81.

---. The Com­pan­ion Species Man­i­festo: Dogs, Peo­ple and Sig­nif­i­cant Oth­er­ness. Prick­ly Par­a­digm Press, 2003.

Her­zog, Wern­er. Cave of For­got­ten Dreams. Kino­smith, 2011. Film.

Infor­ma­tion The­o­ry.” Wikipedia, The Free Ency­clo­pe­dia. Wiki­me­dia Foun­da­tion, Inc. 1 Sept. 2017. Web. 6 Nov. 2017. https://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​I​n​f​o​r​m​a​t​i​o​n​_​t​h​e​ory.

Lip­pit, Aki­ra Mizu­ta. Elec­tric Animal—Toward a Rhetoric of Wildlife. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2000.

Liu, Alan. The Laws of Cool: Knowl­edge Work and the Cul­ture of Infor­ma­tion. 1 edi­tion. Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 2004.

Manovich, Lev. The Lan­guage of New Media. The MIT Press, 2001.

McLuhan, Mar­shall. “New Media as Polit­i­cal Forms.” Explo­rations, vol. 3, 1954, pp. 120-26.

McLuhan, Mar­shall. Under­stand­ing Media: The Exten­sions of Man. With a new intro­duc­tion by Lewis H. Lapham. 1964. The MIT Press, 1994.

Meik­le, Gra­ham, and Sher­man Young. Media Con­ver­gence: Net­worked Dig­i­tal Media in Every­day Life. Pal­grave Macmil­lan, 2012.

Midg­ley, Mary. “Beasts, Brutes and Mon­sters.” What Is an Ani­mal?, edit­ed by Tim Ingold. Rout­ledge, 1994, pp. 35–46.

Mitchell, W. J. T., and Mark B. N. Hansen, eds. Crit­i­cal Terms for Media Stud­ies. Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 2010.

Ngai, Sianne. Our Aes­thet­ic Cat­e­gories: Zany, Cute, Inter­est­ing. Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2012.

Peters, John Durham. The Mar­velous Clouds: Toward a Phi­los­o­phy of Ele­men­tal Media. Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 2015.

Pick, Anat. Crea­ture­ly Poet­ics: Ani­mal­i­ty and Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty in Lit­er­a­ture and Film. Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2011.

Shukin, Nicole. Ani­mal Cap­i­tal: Ren­der­ing Life in Biopo­lit­i­cal Times. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 2009.

Ten­ner, Edward. Our Own Devices: How Tech­nol­o­gy Remakes Human­i­ty. Vin­tage, 2004.

van den Oev­er, Annie and Geof­frey Winthrop-Young. “Rethink­ing the Mate­ri­al­i­ty of Tech­ni­cal Media: Friedrich Kit­tler, Enfant Ter­ri­ble with a Reju­ve­nat­ing Effect on Parental Dis­ci­pline- A Dia­logue.” Techné/Technology: Research­ing Cin­e­ma and Media Tech­nolo­gies, Their Devel­op­ment, Use and Impact, edit­ed by Annie van den Oev­er. Ams­ter­dam Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2014, pp. 219-39.

Williams, Ray­mond. “Struc­tures of Feel­ing.” Marx­ism and Lit­er­a­ture. Revised ed. Oxford Paper­backs, 1995.

Wil­son, Stephen. Infor­ma­tion Arts: Inter­sec­tions of Art, Sci­ence, and Tech­nol­o­gy. The MIT Press, 2003.

This arti­cle is licensed under a Cre­ative Com­mons 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al License although cer­tain works ref­er­enced here­in may be sep­a­rate­ly licensed, or the author has exer­cised their right to fair deal­ing under the Cana­di­an Copy­right Act.