The Animality to Come

—The Time of Transpecies Animals Approaches



Dominique Lestel, trans. Matthew Chrulew




Part of Darwinism’s collateral damage is to make animality a matter of the past, and so to forget that it is also a problem of the future.1 To say that we were animals is an elegant way to rid us of our relationship to animality. It is no accident that, for example, transhumanists grant no interest to animals. That humans could free themselves from all animal temptation in a more or less distant future is arguably a real option—it will inevitably lead to the human dissolving into a condition that we can only imagine very superficially. Another option, to my mind more plausible and in any case much more fruitful to think, is to consider instead that animality has not yet said its last word, so to speak, and to explore the possibility that the human will ultimately be closer to the animal in the future than it has ever been in the past, from yet unprecedented forms of animality to novel procedures of animalisation—transpecies animals. Animality should then be thought of less as a phylogenetic heritage that would have the value of waste in a fairy tale leading from animals to humans, than as a fertile soil that humans may enrich so as to more serenely address the great geological challenges of the epoch—of machines with claims to autonomy,2 of environments more collaborative than interactive. Animality has become rhizomatic. It has vegetalised and liquefied. A space which aims to create a different animality, such as that emerging in the field of Artificial Life, seeks less to reproduce animality-as-it-is than to conceive an animality-as-it-could-be.3 The hybridisation of real animals and prostheses evolves in still another space. As also do genetically modified animals, or the coming cross-breedings between nanotechnology, biotechnology and technologies of information and cognition.4 In short, transpecies animality ejects animality from the space of zoology and introduces new rules into the evolutionary game.5 Within this constantly reorganising proliferation, three tendencies are of exemplary interest: that of a purely virtual transpecies animality; that of an artificial and communitary transpecies animality that develops in spaces shared with humans; and that of a transpecies animality resulting from a deconstruction of metabolisms.



1. A Purely Virtual Animality

Katie King, Cedar Island (2010).

A purely virtual post-animality begins to proliferate in Persistent Virtual Worlds and in certain video games. An example will clarify what is at issue. Katie King, an anthropologist trained in the History of Consciousness Department of the University of California at Santa Cruz, presented a work performed in Second Life with a dog-avatar on Cedar Island (King, ‘SL Tranimal’). To account for it, she proposed a notion that deserves a little attention, that of tranimal.


Drawing on Eva Hayward’s processual ecologies of ‘transing’ (‘Fingeryeyes’; ‘Lessons’), Katie King transcodes technicities, bodies, animalities, feminisms, media, academies. From the beginning, she tries to think this dog-avatar6 from the perspective of a creature that exists at the intersection of numerous planes that are normally stowed into separate ontological categories. Such an approach is fairly standard in a postmodern perspective like that developed by Donna Haraway, but Katie King inscribes herself in this picture, becoming actor of the phenomenon she is trying to account for (the shared life with her dog-avatar in Second Life), and she recognises the autonomy, partial but problematic, of the entity with which it is thus connected—the tranimal, which is at the same time what it does and the limits of what she can do. Thus emerge remarkable forms of autonomy within constraints. So King ‘trains’ her dog-avatar, Saudade, on Cedar Island in the Portugese Virtual Kennel Club (VKC) to keep sheep in Second Life. Great training opportunities result in a wide variety of choices. The VKC dogs can themselves learn by interacting with their environment, with other dogs, with avatars and other scripted objects acting as various forms of agentivities in Second Life. The way that King speaks of what she does reveals the difficulties that she encounters in accurately reflecting what is happening—a recurring feature of situations which involve these hyper-technologised animals: ‘Sau is a tranimal. Or maybe Sau and I working together become tranimals. Or maybe together we are something tranimal. I am not entirely sure which it is. But whichever version of these distributed cognitions we make up, such is my idea of at least one version of trans knowledge and being that make up something tranimal.’ (‘SL Animal’, n.p.)


In Artificial Intelligence, Sau (the dog-avatar) would be considered as an autonomous agent that learns and adapts in interaction with its environment. But King emphasises the trans-connection of her creature at various levels of knowledge and resolution. For the American anthropologist, Sau is an agent that exists but that is not living because it can not reproduce, even if it evolves.7 A multiplicity of knowledges, interests and modes of cognition and incorporation are distributed in various ways—ultimately constituting the animal. King concludes: ‘working together as tranimal, she and I together model some kinds of mammalian attachment.’ (‘SL Animal’, n.p.) King thus designs an artifact that allows a human to explore her own ‘mammality’, Sau itself having nothing of a mammal. A transpecies animal like Sau falls under an ontology which has yet to be convincingly characterised and that must be conceived as a meaning-generating artifact that transforms existences. The non-domestic and proximal artificial post-animality studied by Sherry Turkle falls into this category of transpecies animal and undoubtedly constitutes what is today its most advanced stage.



2. An Animality neither Biological nor Digital

Transpecies animality is also constituted through novel hybrid human/animal/machine communities that were originally popularised in the Tamagotchi fashion, which has developed significantly with Sony’s artificial dog, Aibo, whose principle now extends to other ‘animals of proximity’ designed particularly in Japan and put into service in nursing homes, hospitals, etc. Artifacts like this that overwhelmingly take animal forms greatly appeal to humans. Today, for example, parents buy their children Zhu Zhu Pets (the fetish toy of 2009-10), which are robot hamsters, touted as better than any biological animal. They are adorable, respond, do not need to be cleaned, and never die. Aibo, Paro, Furby—and many others; this extra-biological zoology multiplies. Such an artificial animality of proximity is communal but not domestic. These relational artifacts, that modify the existence of those who use them, and that live every day with humans, have a real and interactive autonomy that should nevertheless not be overestimated. Seeing them evolve with humans, the observer can not help but wonder if they are dealing with a form of animality or if it’s just a matter of virtuoso artifacts that merely mimic the animal.


What ontology to accredit to animalised robots?

Such a question, however, only makes sense in an essentialist conception of the world in which entities have an ontology both unique and unambiguous. We no longer live in such a world and we have never lived there. Who would be prepared to accept purely digital sequences in which ‘dogs’ would be horribly mutilated by a group of sadistic humans? And yet no one suffers, no one is injured or killed. One only sees purely digital images, they are mere pixels, and they do not refer to any real situation. The tortured dogs are not dogs and have never been, because these are not dogs, only animated images. Such sequences, purely aesthetic, may be deemed unhealthy at best, and at worst disgusting, and rightly so. What ontology, therefore, to accredit to Aibo? That of 3D animated images or that of authentic creatures? The answer seems obvious; but it is precisely because this is not the case that the phenomenon of animalised robots becomes truly interesting.


Aibo as moral challenge

One way not to answer the question is to moralise it. As Robert Sparrow does (‘March’), wondering if it is moral to manufacture and sell robots that would mimic true dogs. Such animalised robots (like Aibo) take the appearance of a living creature without being so. The American researcher thus expresses his fear of scrambling fundamental ontological categories, and that some will take too seriously an interaction that does not constitute an authentic relationship. The offense of confusion, therefore, which leads to the scandal of the superficiality of appearances and ends up as the psychic manipulation of seniors: to give them such robots would be to attribute life and interior experiences to lifeless mechanical equipment (Sparrow and Sparrow, ‘Hands’). We could see a kind of puritanism in Sparrow’s position (Blackford, ‘Robots’), and think that the moral peril of robots is insignificant, but the question is ultimately always the same: how can we be moral in a confused world, how to act justly if we are no longer able to correctly identify an animal from a machine? The moral option, it must be admitted, is in the end not a satisfying option. It is even a non-option. Morality is here an elegant way of enjoying our own blindness.


The real is always negotiable

Ultimately, what is problematic is precisely what, today, we can take for an animal, or more precisely what we are prepared to take for an animal, in a world in which their presence becomes both more and more problematic and more and more prevalent. In a famous thought experiment, Robert Nozick explains that we only value a life that is not an illusion (Anarchy, 42-45). He suggests that we might choose to no longer plug into a machine that would provide us a pleasant pseudo-reality, a ‘reality’ that would be just a simple simulation of the experience that we are supposed to live. Instead of that, we want to do certain things in a certain way and we connect substantially to objective reality. We would prefer to live ourselves in contact with reality. But as a good analytic philosopher, Nozick tends to confuse the problems and the solutions; it is precisely what counts for real that is the interesting challenge, and the accreditation of reality both exceeds what one takes for such and is but one part among others. Contrary to Nozick’s view, what is an illusion or not falls neither into the category of the indeterminate, nor into that of the indefinite by which Nicolas of Cusa characterised the human condition, but rather into that, much richer category of the negotiable, and this is how to think about animalised robots. Thought experiments are not experiments, only more or less effective prostheses for thinking about experiences; and reality emerges from our experiences with it and not from a predetermined essence.8 Welcome to a world in which interpretation must give way to experimentation.9


Artificial animals more convincing than biological animals

This is precisely what is not understood by the sociologist Sherry Turkle (Alone), who remains obsessed with essentialist fears of another era, laments the loss of authenticity in the world in which we live, and painfully experiences the downfall that she believes results. The children that she observed, less dogmatic than her, did not consider that their Aibo could be interchangeable with any other. To conclude from this that the robot has for them the same status as a companion dog would, however, be premature; it is more rigorous to say that these robots are something other than simple machines and no doubt also something other than dogs. Knowing what they are forms part of the problem and is not a point of departure to be taken as such. Faced with actual turtles and with robots that behave like turtles, the American preteens that Turkle observed thus found the robots more convincing than the animals themselves. We could let this worry us; but it is better to understand the emerging ontologies on which such a position is based. In any case, biological animals themselves become more and more hybrid creatures and are less and less identifiable through simple and mutually exclusive Aristotelian categories.



3. Biological transpecies

The purely biological animal is in any event made to compete with multiple hybrids of uncertain status that now all have something of the artifact. The traditional opposition between living beings on the one hand and artifacts on the other has had its day. No doubt, it has been certain artists who have best understood that animality had become a tremendous playground and an extraordinary space of experimentation outside of the Geneva Convention. With the manipulation of the living, the artist thus finds a very effective inspiration, a provocation likely to give rise to the conditions for innovation. Artists add to the romantic provocation (a bit outdated to the self-righteous), a more interesting provocation regarding an Evolution that was itself constituted as a permanent provocation, one that it had in fact established as the privileged mode of operation vis-à-vis the living. For these artists, the main issue is not so much the gaming of evolution (by trying to surpass it by creating for example an overman), as a playing with evolution (by creating hitherto unprecedented living forms or by resurrecting already forgotten forms). The modern artist who makes himself a bio-artist undertakes moreover much more fundamental provocations, since it is precisely a matter of those who govern the living itself as living. In other words, as opposed to the ‘deep ecology’ of Arne Naess, who asks that we ‘freeze’ parts of the world to preserve it by excluding humans, one should speak here of a ‘high ecology’ that takes part in the game instead of being content to remain in the stands counting points and drinking beers.


The Brazilian and American artist Eduardo Kac has for twenty years been opening up this transpecist approach to animality of which he has been a pioneer, and his work can be taken as representative of this movement. In 1994, in ‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ designed with the engineer Ikuo Nakamura, a telerobot established communication between a canary found in a cage in Kentucky and a philodendron itself found in New York. The humans who surround the bird give rise in it to a more or less intense song that makes the leaves of the plant react. The voltage fluctuation resulting from the movement of the foliage is recorded by an electrode in direct contact with one of the leaves.


Eduardo Kac (with Ikuo Nakamura), Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1994).
Schematic Diagram: Eduardo Kac.


With Darker than Night, presented from June 17 to July 7 1999 at the Blijdorp zoo in Rotterdam, Kac introduced an artificial bat into the cave in which genuine bats are gliding. Thanks to the telepresence device of the robot bat, the human is relocated within the cave and perceives the environment through a sonar simulation similar to that used by real bats. Kac thus allows us to see the external environment through the eyes of the visitor and the internal environment with those of the biobot. In April 2000, Kac is photographed with Alba, a transgenic albino rabbit in his arms. Commissioned by Kac from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) for AVIGNONumérique, the rabbit received a gene that is usually found in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. Following this operation, the small mammal with long ears becomes an intense fluorescent green when exposed to a makeshift light. Kac himself attaches a secondary importance to the technical aspect of these manipulations. He insists, on the contrary, on the social aspects of the living being thus manipulated, on the problems of biodiversity that ensue, and on the community aspect of the relationships that humans will have with transgenic creatures. Kac’s objective is less to create genetically modified objects than transgenic social subjects.


The artist creates neither an object that remains invariant through the ages, nor an ephemeral performance. In his transgenic art, the object is subjectified (that is to say both becomes subject and is subjected) through a dual autonomy—with regard to the one who generated it and with regard to its environment. This work thus potentially10 has what one could call ‘a life of its own’. The creator is furthermore not really the one who conceived it but the one who gave the initial impetus to the processes of transformation.11 In this sense, the artist is more like the father or mother than the artisan strictly speaking. We thus understand what Kac means when he defines transgenic art as art that explores ‘the intricate relationship between biology, belief systems, information technology, dialogical interaction, ethics, and the Internet’ (Lucie-Smith, ‘Kac’, 21). One might add: morality, law, etc. Conceived in this way, transgenic art is not an art of the biological but an art in the biological which suggests the renewal of the living through technologies of communication. Animals have become images and images have been animalised—they have their own life in a mode that is not only metaphorical. These are incarnate images that must be fed, images that can feel pain and pleasure—images, in other words, whose well-being must be worried about and whose nature is uneasy: the uncanny images of surrealism become the unquieting images of bioart. Transgenic art attacks the very notion of species by trivialising the borders and by practising a non-adaptive extension of the species that ultimately renders its own identity problematic. One point in this regard is very disturbing with Alba. This animal, very different from purely biological rabbits that do not have the jellyfish gene, is ultimately not so different from other rabbits (its particularity appears only in blue light). Alba is an image that is only exposed when placed in particular circumstances—in this sense it is an image that must be exposed to be truly understood, and in this sense also these are images that can be considered as post-photographic photographs.



4. The ambiguous condition of transpecies animality

In relation to the non-biological or differently biological animals that I have outlined—the digital dog of Katie King, the animal robots that concern Sherry Turkle or the transgenic animals of Eduardo Kac—there are two attitudes that are rather sterile. Unconditional acceptance (it is a matter of animals just like the others, merely non-biological or otherwise biological), or unconditional rejection (they are only more or less efficient machines, in no case animals, or they are necessarily innocent poor victims). A more interesting attitude raises the question of how far these transpecific competitors transform the very notion of animality.


An a posteriori animality

The central problem of transpecies animality (whether digital, artificial or post-biological) is that of its points of adherence to the human—who thus passes from the status of species to that of ecosystem—and the nature of the adherence that is practised therein. This ecology of adherence is constituted in the ontology of connection. I am that to which and with whom I am connected. This individualisable connection with multiple inputs is also an existential connection. Though they are artificial, these transpecies animals are not artifacts that can be configured from preset options, but artifacts that are modelled according to a shared history, which is very different. It is the areas of adherence to which they are connected that truly characterises the transpecies animality of emergent animalised organisations. These artifacts do not fit into the category of the living via the proper characteristics that biologists may isolate (for example because they are autonomous, because they can reproduce, because they defend a territory, etc.), but because we can engage with them, they can share existences (human or not) and they therefore constitute an a posteriori animality that is revealed through adventures that are always undertaken together. The transpecies animal is inscribed in the cultural, organic and material genealogies that contaminate our own yet which nevertheless set down the conditions of existence. These multi-identitary connections are not only psychological and social; they are intrinsically ethical, evolutionary and legal. The ethical dimension in play is moreover all the more interesting as it is certainly not moral but is rather constructed inversely to a more standard ethical relationship.


An inverted ethical connection

We can smile at the idea that we could be subjected to ethical demands vis-à-vis an artifact; after all, the European intellectual tradition has always thought of ethics in a fundamental opposition that separated living beings from things, and even restricted it to certain carefully selected living beings. Ethics has always been constituted within a club whose members were radically handpicked. Other cultural traditions have been more generous, by admitting a baroque multiplicity of living beings (including, for example, ants, or complete ecosystems like a mountain or a lake, in the ethical space) and even by being quite lax at the borders. All, however, have put restrictions in place. It may suddenly be asked whether what is important in an ethical stance would be less the nature of that in relation to which we must be ethical, than the ethical relation itself through which we construct our own identity. Joanna Zylinska thus reminds us that the framework of hybrid human/nonhuman relations is one of the principal ethical questions of our epoch (Bioethics, 28). In such a context, an ethic like that of Levinas soon shows its limits. For Levinas, I can only have responsibility vis-a-vis creatures who can themselves have responsibilities, that is to say creatures with whom I can enter into discussion (see Llewelyn, ‘Obsessed’, 237). However, Levinas closes this group and determines it a priori. Transpecies animality shows on the contrary the need for an ethic open to the variety of identities and their constant transformations. The importance of an ethic of animalised artifacts leads ethics out of ethics. By radicalising Zylinska’s position, we should ultimately consider ethics according to two very different, albeit in the end complementary, perspectives. We must take ethics as a way of behaving appropriately in relation to the self and others—whatever these others besides. But ethics can also be conceived not only as a way of behaving appropriately with others, but more generally of regarding others as others. From this perspective, ethics 1 would tell us how to act with others and ethics 2 gives us a practical way of regarding others as others. In other words, by acting ethically with animalised artifacts, we might end up conceiving them as others. Or put differently again, and in a more contextualised way, considering robots that resemble humans or animals as entities that we must treat in an ethical way should lead us to more intimately incorporate the ability to see them as instances of humans or animals (whatever instance means here). In this sense, ethics 2 becomes a cognitive, intellectual and psychic tool that enables the conditions to be established for a relationship with others and not merely, strictly speaking, an ethical aspect added afterwards.


A general contamination of animality

The question is not only that of knowing what this non-biological animality that we are discussing here is, but equally that of knowing what animality becomes such that we know it (or such that we believe we know it) when it is exposed to the former. What becomes of animality when ‘the animal’ becomes fundamentally a media? For Jesper Hoffmeyer, a dog is first of all a message for another dog (Signs, 46; see Lestel, ‘Data’, for a discussion of this phrase). Ultimately every living being is before anything else a message for other living beings and at the same time a decoder of messages from others. Every animal is at the sime time a contaminator of meaning and a contaminated semiotics. Every post-animal is thus called to enter into the circus of significations by at times bringing forth a novel status: for a dog, a robot-dog is thus an intermediary creature—neither another dog, nor a remote controlled car (Kubinyi et al., ‘Social’). What troubles us here is the fear that appears of tricksters—usurpers who make themselves pass for animals when they are not. But we have entered into the space of transpecies animality in which the very notion of trickster has no great meaning. The trickster is dangerous when the game requires that they be excluded. When the game is implicitly organised around tricksters, they present no more than a relative menace. What thus becomes of the animal when it enters into competition with a multitude of creatures of a more or less porous status? In the end we have perhaps never understood what it is to be an animal for us because we have always confused two things, the animal and the animal who lives with us, thinking that they amounted to the same thing, that had undergone some transformation (called domestication for short, probably one of the most phantasmic notions of modern times), and not two ontologically very different creatures who after all resemble each other only very superficially, even if they are connected by the same biological organism. The animal who lives with us ultimately became more prominent than the animal itself due to the very particular ecosystem in which we now share our life with it and through which it is transformed—City.


City as bioreactor

The Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser (1920-1991) was one of the first to have understood that the very phenomenon of the city had to be reconceptualised in order to account for its contemporary dynamics (‘City’). For Flusser, cities are defined more by the relationships that they have between them than by the physical spaces that they occupy. He would have concluded that a site like Facebook should be regarded as a city just like San Francisco. The city is a flection in a field. An attraction point that accelerates the realisation of possibilities. A space of connectivity between humans and other-than-humans that cannot be geographically located. However, Flusser still thinks of the City too much as a very abstract system of interconnections, which he does not connect to any metabolic activity.


The first to truly think about the City as a concrete biological organism were the Japanese architects who came together around Kenzo Tenge in the 60s, an approach exhibited in their manifesto Metabolism 1960.12 But we must go further and regard the City as multi-metabolic. Transpecies animality is a consequence of such a City, that should be seen as a ‘bioreactor’ that transforms the living that it determines and regulates—in particular animals. The bioreactor City operates at several levels and transforms not only individual animals and the species to which they belong but also what it means to ‘be alive’. Local cities aggregate into a giant supra-local entity of hybrid status, ‘City’, that is organised around a digital pseudo-nervous system (the internet) without for all that being reduced to it; that acts as a powerful bioreactor vis-à-vis the ensemble of living beings; and that as a result transforms them—metabolically, physiologically, behaviourally, cognitively, semiotically. City results from a growing phenomenon of concentration, densification, diversification and intermingling of living beings in unlikely and largely makeshift configurations. City should not be thought of as an architecture that is peopled afterwards, but as an ontological metabolism that delves into the very texture of the living, of material constructions, of semiotic and libidinal dispositifs, and of energy flows. City delocalises animal species, manipulates their densities beyond what is reasonable and injects their lives into novel, very anthropised and largely unstable ecosystems. It transforms animals through hybridisations, experimentations, foldings, and various manipulations in a chaotic dynamics that mingles natural evolution and cultural adventures. City appears as a configuration of nodes of metabolic transformation in which energies intersect, information is exchanged, and from which more or less collective desires emerge.


Since the Neolithic revolution—though we should speak instead of Neolithic revolutions—City has progressively become a major vector of the development of life on Earth and not only continues to be, but is more and more so, up to becoming the primary vector. Oppositions that have traditionally structured thought, like city/country or wild/domestic, have now lost all relevance. What matters today is inventing concepts that would allow us to better apprehend what is at stake in contemporary configurations of the world. To understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to quite radically reconceptualise what a City is, no longer as a space of social habitat but as a major vector of transformation of living beings—human and nonhuman. City must be thought of less as organisation of space than as a post-ecosystem of reconfiguration of the living. The density of habitat leads to the reconfiguration of energies that is at once the cause and consequence of City. The most interesting space from which this major transformation of the Living can be thought is found in a poorly defined and still very imperfectly mapped zone, in which are evolving hybrid innovators, part artists, part thinkers, part entrepreneurs and part scientific engineers. Guy Debord was in the end right when he said that ‘one day, we will construct cities for drifting…’ (cited in Marcus, Lipstick, 388).




Paul Shepard’s ingenious idea was to show that the human was constituted in a very peculiar form of parasitism, the parasitism not of an animal, nor of a species, but rather that of the entirety of animality itself. Transpecies animality is achieving this process by pulverising both animality itself and the humanity that emerges. I will myself hypothesise that we are witnessing the cultural détournement of some of our most fundamental phylogenetic abilities. Thinking about animality must not hesitate to adopt a seemingly excessive audacity, to get off the paths usually frequented in a comfortable doze. The question of animality is unthinkable today without considering the ‘machinic turn’ that profoundly transforms it. The space of machines must be thought of as the equivalent of a new geological era that destabilises all animality. Which are the species that are going to be able to accommodate which types of machines, and which ones will eventually disappear after failing to find a satisfactory modus vivendi? We remain too timid in thinking about animality when we should be more demanding: to have a thought that lives up to animality. This could be the methodological and ethical precept at the base of all thought of animality. But we have been so used to being neutered in our ways of thinking, by our educational background and our institutional university spaces, that we are not even aware of our fundamental infirmity.


I have tried to show that transpecies animality (characterised less by the species that it suggests than the adherences through which it is configured) enters into three major groups—that of digital animality, that of animalised artifactuality, and that of the genetico-cultural reconfiguration of animal metabolisms. I then suggested that this transpecies animality was fundamentally ambiguous, by pausing on four fundamental points: transpecies animality as a posteriori animality; ethics as tool for the constitution of transpecies animal identity; the contaminating condition of this animality of which a central characteristic is having to be thought as a fully-fledged media; and the role of City as global post-ecosystem and central bioreactor, the major generator of transpecies animality.


Transpecies animality falls much more within a subversive engineering of telecommunications, a liquid anthropology of urban life, or a role-playing genomic architecture, than any zoology in the traditional sense of the term. It renders the living newly concrete, after the excesses of abstraction of life in terms of information or of self-organisation. It weaves a frame in which the living is no longer that to which I can attribute a life (whatever the definition adopted) but that with whom I can live my life, which is nevertheless very different—and even that in which and in whom I can blow myself up and what can burst in me. We must develop metaphors of fireworks to understand the living to come.




1. I would like to thank the CNRS who granted me a delegation to the University of Tokyo in 2013-2014 to work on these questions, Sandra Laugier, without whom none of this would have been possible, and Philippe Codognet for his hospitality within the Japanese French Laboratory for Informatics. #back


2. We too often neglect the opposite fantasy to that of the autonomous machine, the human become inert. See for example Ranpo Edogawa’s short story, ‘La chaise humaine’. #back


3. A definition given by Chris Langton who organised the first workshops on artificial life at the Santa Fe Institute for the Study of Complexity. On this subject, the reference work is that of Helmreich, Silicon Second Nature. #back


4. Crichton’s novel The Prey gives a frightening enough version of what might be a form of life that inherits from animality while also itself being totally alien. #back


5. The first who understood this phenomenon was Samuel Butler (1835-1902), in a letter to the New Zealand The Press from 13 June 1863 titled, ‘Darwin among the Machines’. #back


6. I write ‘dog-avatar’, but it is not really an avatar, since it does not correspond to any real dog. It is, rather, a different ontological category that still needs be mobilised here, a properly digital entity, under partial control of an avatar. #back


7. This differs from a purely biological hybrid like the mule that does not reproduce, nor evolve. #back


8. The constructivist position should be discussed here, initiated by Giambattista Vico and followed more recently by theoreticians like Ernst von Glasersfeld or Paul Watzlawick. #back


9. Deleuze and Parnet, Dialogues, 55. Peter Sloterdijk has a similar point of view when he says that we have passed from the era of explorers to that of experimenters. #back


10. I introduce this nuance because autonomy does not forcefully signify life, which should be remembered on this point. #back


11. The French artist Louis Bec is one who has theorised and practised such an art practice. #back


12. The reference work on Metabolism in architecture is Koolhaas and Obrist, Project. #back




Blackford, Russell. ‘Robots and reality: a reply to Robert Sparrow’. Ethics and Information Technology 14 (2012): 41-51.


Butler, Samuel. ‘Darwin among the Machines’. The Press, 13 June 1863. 


Crichton, Michael. Prey. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.


Deleuze, Gilles and Claire Parnet. Dialogues. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.


Edogawa, Ranpo. ‘La chaise humaine’. In La chambre rouge, trans. Jean-Christian Bouvier. Picquier poche, 1998, pp. 29-50.


Flusser, Vilém. ‘The City as Wave-Trough in the Image-Flood’. Trans. Phil Gochenour. Critical Inquiry 31 (2005): 320-328.


Hayward, Eva. ‘Lessons From a Starfish’. In Queering the Non/Human, ed. Noreen Giffney and Myra J. Hird. London: Ashgate, 2008, pp. 249-263.


Hayward, Eva. ‘Fingeryeyes: Impressions of Cup Corals’. Cultural Anthropology 25, 4 (2010): 577–599.


Helmreich, Stefan. Silicon Second Nature: Culturing Artificial Life in a Digital World. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.


Hoffmeyer, Jesper. Signs of Meaning in the Universe. Trans. Barbara J. Haveland. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.


King, Katie. ‘SL Tranimal my distributed animality’. Zoontotechnics (Animality / Technicity) Conference, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, Wales, 14 May 2010.


Koolhaas, Ram and Hans Ulrich Obrist. Project Japan: Metabolism Talks… Köln: Taschen, 2011.


Kubinyi, Enik?, Ádám Miklosi, Frédéric Kaplan, Márta Gácsi, József Topál and Vilmos Csányi. ‘Social behaviour of dogs encountering AIBO, an animal-like robot in a neutral and in a feeding situation’. Behavioural Processes 65, 3 (2004): 231-239.


Lestel, Dominique. ‘Data’. In A More Developed Sign: Interpreting the Work of Jesper Hoffmeyer, ed. Donald Favareau, Paul Cobley and Kalevi Kull. Tartu: Tartu University Press, 2012, pp. 93-95.


Llewelyn, John. ‘Am I Obsessed by Bobby? (Humanism of the Other Animal)’. In Re-Reading Levinas, ed. Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991, pp. 234-45.


Lucie-Smith, Edward. ‘Eduardo Kac and Transgenic Art’. In The Eighth Day: The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac, ed. Sheilah Britton and Dan Collins. Tempe: Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, 2003, pp. 20-26.


Marcus, Greil. Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989.


Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.


Sparrow, Robert. ‘The march of the robot dogs’. Ethics and Information Technology 4 (2002): 305-318.


Sparrow, Robert and Linda Sparrow. ‘In the hands of machines? The future of aged care’. Minds and Machines 16 (2006): 141-161.


Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.


Zylinska, Joanna. Bioethics in the Age of New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2009.




Ctrl-Z: New Media Philosophy

ISSN 2200-8616


< Contents

< Close Issue