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Apr 16, 2019
| ISBN 9780262039604
Apr 16, 2019
| ISBN 9780262352017
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Apr 16, 2019 | ISBN 9780262039604
Apr 16, 2019 | ISBN 9780262352017
The close interdependency of animal emissaries and new media from early European colonial encounters with the exotic to today’s proliferation of animals in digital networks.
From cat videos to corporate logos, digital screens and spaces are crowded with animal bodies. In Virtual Menageries, Jody Berland examines the role of animals in the spread of global communications. Her richly illustrated study links the contemporary proliferation of animals on social media to the collection of exotic animals in the formative years of transcontinental exploration and expansion. By tracing previously unseen parallels across the history of exotic and digital menageries, Berland shows how and why animals came to bridge peoples, territories, and technologies in the expansion of colonial and capitalist cultures.
Berland’s genealogy of the virtual menagerie begins in 1414 when a ruler in Bengal sent a Kenyan giraffe to join a Chinese emperor’s menagerie. It maps the beaver’s role in the colonial conquest of Canada and examines the appearances of animals in early moving pictures. The menagerie is reinvented for the digital age when image and sound designers use parts or images of animals to ensure the affective promise and commercial spread of an emergent digital infrastructure. These animal images are emissaries that enliven and domesticate the ever-expanding field of mediation. Virtual Menageries offers a unique account of animals and animal images as mediators that encourage complicated emotional, economic, and aesthetic investment in changing practices of connection.
“Virtual Menageries in an interesting and rich book that advances academic knowledge on animal mediation and in doing so demonstrates the potential that an interdisciplinary critical appriach holds for looking at contemporary media phenomena, such as cats on the internet”—International Journal of Communication “Virtual Menageries brings to light that we live with a digital consciousness. We are connected with the past because of the responsibility that is in our hands and continue to maintain the menagerie whether we do so willingly or passively. We decide what to do together to maintain the future and the Anthropocene is our last chance at shifting the tides for preservation and sustainability with this knowledge. Virtual Menageries impels us to create a new framework for defining why and newly learning how we can imagine living our lives differently from viewing animal life mediologically. It is a book I recommend to anyone looking to expand from a humanist scope to one more ethically mindful and consciously awake. Liberated from the restrictions of the mere human condition and one contributing in the creation of a global paragon.”—Leonardo
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