EASST/4S Paper: Vegetal Images. An experimental media archaeology of nonhuman vision

August 20, 2020

Paper co-authored together with Jussi Parikka presented in a panel on Nonhuman Vision at the 4S/EASST conference.

In this paper we discuss our work-in-progress research on “vegetal images” as an entry point to both an alternative history of visual coulutre and photography and as an experimental media archaeology of non-human vision. While contemporary machine vision and AI technologies and discourses have the potential to challenge anthropocentric modes of vision and sensing, we address a longer genealogy of information, energetic, and material forms of “seeing” that emerge in contexts of plant research since approximately 1850s. Hence, besides important work on alternative perceptual capacities of animal life, we turn to plants but not only in the broader philosophical sense of last years of discussions (See e.g. Marder 2013; Coccia 2018; Aloi 2019) but as they emerge in contexts of research in modern history of sciences, experimental practices, and modelling. Hence, from Julius Wiesner to contemporary precision farming in agriculture, we argue that the agricultural and the photosynthetic contexts of perception and capture of light lead into important links between media and technology considering also current forms of modelling of growth and evolution (e.g. in AI technologies).

Hence, mobilizing work from Giuliana Bruno’s (2014) conceptualisation of the “surface” of the image to for example Mackenzie and Munster (2019) we aim to elaborate the key ideas from the research into environmental imaging that sits as part of the Operational Images and Visual Culture: Media Archaeological Investigations project (Czech Science Foundation project 19-26865X, at FAMU, Academy of Performing Arts, Prague).