Symbiont Encounters is an experimental, expanded eco-sci-fi digital novel that explores the use of technologies for imaginatively inhabiting ‘interspecies’ sensory perception and cognition, and ways in which digital platforms may be repurposed for these ends. Interspecies, or ‘symbiont’ beings, following Donna Haraway’s ‘Children of Compost’ (Haraway, 2016), are humans that have been bodily modified with genes and micro-organisms of an endangered species.
The novel will experiment with the use of interspecies bots, algorithmically-generated scripts, nonlinear hypertext, and virtual or augmented reality. It will investigate the potential of technologically-mediated collective narratives of extra-human sensory perception to produce extra-human, disidentifying kinship structures – that is, structures that do not rely on group identification with sameness. It will consider:
- How can networked identity politics strategies be applied to open out, de-individuate and de-anthropocise the group?
- To use the group as a model for radical embrace of difference rather than a closed identity-specific group?
Following Bogost (2012) and Shaviro’s (2016) different takes on Nagel’s ‘What is it like to be a Bat?’ (1974), and current multispecies ethnographic practices in anthropology, the narrative will move away from models of ‘identity and display’ (Bratton, 2016) to a posthuman and nonhuman politics of dis-identity, via avatars and science-fictional speculative approaches.
Supervision Team: Dr Hannah Drayson (Director of Studies), Professor Michael Punt and Dr Phil Ellis