Mute: Insect Oriented Media Theory

Jussi Parikka's recent book Insect Media simultaneously expands the field of media theory and the purview of biopolitics by thinking about the more-than-human development of communication environments. Review by Jennifer Gabrys.

Parikka_Insect coverAnts and bees, spiders and moths, ticks and praying mantises can be found inhabiting the pages of Jussi Parikka's Insect Media. Arthropods and other bug-like creatures crawl, flap and flutter through this text as provocations for asking how we might read entomology as media theory. On the one hand, this guiding question is informed by the ‘realisation that basically anything can become a medium'; and on the other by the suggestion that the perceptual worlds that exist beyond human sensation and human use of media may begin to influence how we understand media and media theory. We may have grown accustomed to thinking of media as tools of content generation or entertaining diversion, as questions of users and consumer-based subjectivities, but this set of media debates and concerns is sidestepped to consider an alternative view of media as a more-than-human transfer of information that contributes to intensive material and environmental changes. With this material and distributed understanding of media, insects' chemical signals and haptic alerts may be considered media, where exchange of communication and affect is not understood as visual representation (as with human media), but rather as multisensory and more-than-human exchanges. At the same time, the swarming modes of organisation or distributed transfer of messages observed and interpreted within insect worlds may begin to influence new iterations of media technologies, from software to networks - thereby making our media decidedly posthuman in its formation and operation.

Published in: Mute Magazine
By: Jennifer Gabrys

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