Thursday, 23 December 2010
Insect Media is out!
A great birthday present -- an email from your publisher saying that the book is out! Two days later, i.e. today, I got my first copy of the book, and despite the fact that I barely dare to open it in case I realize the greatest idiocy somewhere on the pages, one has to feel quite happy about this: Insect Media is finally out! After a 1.5 years wait since I submitted the final version, I get to see it turn into a book with nice retro cover, and with the blurb from Eugene Thacker:
"With Insect Media Jussi Parikka offers a theory of media that challenges our traditional views of the natural and the artificial. Parikka not only understands insects through the lens of media and mediation, he also unearths an insect logic at the heart of our contemporary fascination with networks, swarming, and intelligent agents. Such a project requires the ability to interweave cultural theory with a deep understanding of the sciences—something for which Parikka is well-suited. Most importantly, Insect Media reminds us of the non-human aspect of media, communication, intelligence. Insect Media is a book that is sure to create a buzz."
It was one of those projects really fun to write - even if raising a couple of eyebrows when trying to tell what it is about -- to write modern media history from the point of view of these tiny animals. Not only a book about swarms, or recent years of media theory and media design that borrow from animal studies and understanding of insect life - but a wider take on the intertwining of animals and technology in modernity. A parallel methodology of theory in combination with cultural history, or let's say "media archaeology".
Hence, I came up with a summarizing way to describe what I am doing, and something that ended up as the opening words for the whole book:
"First, a practical exercise. Pick up an entomology book; something such as Thomas Eisner’s For the Love of Insects from a couple of years back will do fine, or an older book from the nineteenth century, like John Lubbock’s On the Senses, Instincts, and Intelligence of Animals with Special Reference to Insects (1888) suits the purpose as well. However, do not read the book as a description of the biology of those tiny insects or solely as an excavation of the microcosmic worlds of entomology. Instead, if you approach it as media theory, it reveals a whole new world of sensations, perceptions, movements, stratagems, and patterns of organization that work much beyond the confines of the human world."
A big thanks to University of Minnesota Press, and Cary Wolfe, who accepted this to his Posthumanities-series...such an honour to be there, among so many fabulous academic writers.