Room B312 Portland Square,
University of Plymouth,
Stephanie Moran is an artist and writer. She completed a Postgraduate Diploma at Cyprus College of Art and an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London. She is a 3D3-funded MPhil/PhD candidate as part of the Transtechnology Research Group at Plymouth University.
Alien Holobiontology: Ecological Fictioning and Networked Media
This project to produce an experimental eco-sci-fi digital novel explores the use of technologies for imaginatively inhabiting ‘interspecies’ sensory perception and cognition, and how digital platforms may be repurposed for these ends; and, conversely, how platforms can be inhabited and repurposed for post-anthropocentric activism by multispecies algorithmic hybrids.
Alien Holobiontology will be based on work with Marine Biologists and Ecologists to speculatively explore an ecosystem, its organisms and microorganisms, within a specific area of marine environment. It will imaginatively inhabit these multiple species’ perceptions and biosemiotic relationships through fictions created in text and coding, and as algorithmic, animated and augmented reality entities.
The novel’s structure will be based on holobionts: assemblages of symbiotic, multispecies entities (Haraway, 2016; Margulis & Fester, 1991). Alien Holobiontology is a collaboration between multiple species of organisms and microorganisms; a socially engaged research partnership of scientists, technologists and artists; ecologists and, speculatively, Marine Biologists.
Following Benjamin Bratton’s ‘accidental megastructure’ theory of global computation, this experimental novel will test how a range of specific platforms shape user behavior, looking at the qualities and affective impacts of different levels of platform immersion on collective narrative production, online identification and identity construction, and the phenomenology of digital reading.
It will investigate possibilities for experiencing extra-human sensory perception and extra-human, disidentifying kinship structures – that is, structures that do not rely on group identification. It will explore how networked identity politics strategies may be applied to open out, de-individuate and de-anthropocise the group, using the group as a model for radical embrace of difference rather than a closed identity-specific group. It considers differentiation through feminist theories of diffraction (Haraway, 1992; Barad, 2007) and Trinh T Minh-Ha’s post- and de-colonial feminist concept of the Inappropriate(d) Other (Minh-Ha, 1989, 2013).
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 (Tsing, 2015; Tsing, Swanson, Gan, et al., 2017), the narrative will move away from ‘identity and display’ to a posthuman and nonhuman politics of dis-identity, via avatars and science-fictional speculative approaches.
Interspecies Twitter bot with Etic Lab, using rules developed from @alien_ontology’s alien freshwater pearl mussel feed, but the bot will constitute an interspecies crow-human. The text material is extracted from scientific papers describing the species’ sensory perception, environmental responses, behavior and cognition. It will also apply rules taken from a human dataset describing sensory perception, environmental responses, behavior and cognition.
Skullcracker Suite Ballet, online hypertext sci-fi ballet with sonic drone score by sound engineer Chris Hind.
Interspecies Disco, with Maggie Roberts, Joseph Walsh and Kirsten Cooke at Dilston Grove/CGP London November 2018. Following on from Swamp Living immersive workshop at IMT Gallery, part of Maggie Roberts’ solo show. London May 2018.
Art Editor, The Ecological Citizen, a peer-reviewed ecological open access journal.
Associate Partner, Etic Lab, a socially engaged research and development partnership of scientists, technologists and artists.
Conferences and Talks
Coding the Digital Occult, Occulture Berlin, November 2018
Alien Physics, Transtechnology Research seminar, February 2019
Future Ghosts, Haunted Geologies, University of Plymouth, March 20
Ecological Sci-fi Practice, Environmental Arts Practice Research conference, University of Plymouth, April 25-26 2019
Octopus Cognition and Machine Learning, Goldsmiths London, May 21 2019
Mantic Staining: the Divinatory Paintings of Ithell Colquhoun, Re-writing the Future: 100 Years of Esoteric Modernism & Psychoanalysis, May 30-June 1, 2019
Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway,
Bogost, I (2012). Alien Phenomenology
Bratton, B. (2016). The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty
Haraway, D. (1992).’The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others’, Grossberg, Nelson, and Treichler, eds., Cultural Studies
Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene
Minh-Ha, Trinh T. (1989). Woman, Native, Other. Writing postcoloniality and feminism. Indiana University Press
Minh-Ha, Trinh T. (2013). D-Passage: The Digital Way
Shaviro, S. (2016) Discognition.
Tsing, Swanson, Gan, et al., eds. (2017). Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet