Insect Media

Jussi Parikka In this book, Parikka examines insects, and our relationships to them, through the lens of media theory. Doing so, he claims, "reveals a whole new world of sensations, perceptions, movements, stratagems and patterns of organization that work much beyond the confines of the human world" (ix). Using what he terms as a neo-materialist approach, Parikka leverages the writings of Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Gilbert Simondon, Eugene Thacker, and Jacob Uexküll (among others) to examine the ways in which insects have inspired approaches to new media experiences in film, robotics, computing, animation, and art.

For instance, robotics offers an interesting ethological approach between robots and their environment, computer networking and graphics display different models and techniques of swarming, while artists have used insects not just as inspiration for creating new material experiences for their audiences, but also as subjects of study, and inspiration of alternative logics from which to make work. Parikka's approach brings to the fore the different ways that insects are interwoven into our cultural media practices. Art, biological sciences, computing sciences, cultural theory seem not different disciplines so much as an orchestrated movement—a swarm of interconnected workers moving toward the same goal.

Parikka's work holds a significant position within my own research. First, it is a model of analysis of a specific class of nonhuman entities, specifically focusing on the experiential components of insects in relation to an interdisciplinary understanding of media. Second, Parikka mobilizes arguments from a number of the theorists that I see important in my dissertation. Both his approach of an insect understanding of media and his analysis of critical theory offer tools through which I can approach my research to nonhuman experience.