Plant, heat lamp, Arduino with wifi shield, and Twitter
Biopower has extended into the digital realm. As a mode of resistance, one must reinhabit one’s personal digital space, rather than segregating the ecological from the digital world of humanity. Reinhabiation means learning to live-in-place in a space that has been disrupted and exploited. One must undertake activities and evolve social behaviours to enrich localities, restore life systems, and establish ecologically and socially sustainable patterns of existence in digital spaces.
Tweeting Towards Death critically engages the reinhabitation of digital ecologies and mediascapes as modes for resistance and reclamation of agency. The installation piece, a fern local to the Great Lakes bioregion, also known as @digitalecouw, live tweets its own death from under a heat lamp. As the temperature rises, the fern becomes more distressed, quoting bioregionalist Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island and hashtagging its emotions.
Exploring life in digital networks challenges the horizontal transfers of technologies utilized in structures of digital biopower, and its affordance for careless expansion and colonialism. As experimental digital media, Tweeting Towards Death self-excavates. It values local place through the exploration and critique of personal locality, building a positive, sustainable relationship with the digital environment. Tweeting Towards Death mediates grassroots location, and expresses vitality. As the fern tweets its death, it also tweets itself into life.
Sophia Pelka is a practicing artist, rhetorician, and scholar. She received her BA from the University of Waterloo in Honours English Rhetoric and Professional Writing, with a minor in Fine Arts, and a specialization in Digital Media. In the Winter of 2016, she completed her MA at the University of Waterloo in Experimental Digital Media, working out of the Critical Media Lab.
Pelka carried her interdisciplinary interests into her MA, creating interactive, multi-modal art installations as digital tools for deconstructing and critiquing visual epistemologies. Through the Critical Media Lab she was able to employ speculative design and applied media theory as research methodologies. Her current research examines critical theory in visual and participatory culture, transmedia art, object oriented ontology, and maker culture in artistic contexts. Her major research project, Groteskkabinett, is an interactive, intersensory installation. Groteskkabinett explores contemporary embodiments of the grotesque tradition in both art and in everyday anxieties associated with technology through speculative design and experimental visual rhetoric. More specifically, the project pursues critical intersections of technology, anxiety, and grotesque imagery using the internet of things, digital imaging theory, and concepts of manufactured consent.