Welcome to Virtual Menageries

A cat can look at a king, and even at a philosopher (Derrida), but
 can it talk to him on the phone? Countless billboards and 
televisionslots, websites and blogs, comic strips, YouTube 
videos and digital art projects are exploring this scenario.
 Digital cats, puppies, unicorns, insects, snakes, birds,
 butterflies, monkeys, beavers, hybrids, monsters, cyborgs, and other species constitute a new 
“virtual menagerie,” both in a literal sense as animals that
 populate the virtual spaces of a technologically mediated reality, and 
also in terms of a broader understanding of virtuality that draws from 
philosophies of immanence and becoming, theories of risk society, popular culture, digital aesthetics and the political subject, suggesting
 that we are becoming … something (something else?) in connection with these 

“Virtual menageries” provides the opportunity to theorize the place of
 animals in the media spaces of network culture in relation to diverse 
agencies and sites: the utopian ideologies and corporate logos of digital innovators, the
 consumer culture of mobility, the diffusion of children’s animal 
imaginaries, the remobilization of global nationalism, the militarization of the telecommunications industry,
 the hidden production and export of toxic e-waste being sent to
 developing countries that are habitats for many of these same 
animals, the ascendancy of affect as a mode of governmentality and 
anti-governmentality, the popular dissemination of portals, blogs, and imaging technologies,  the emotional ally charged status of animals today, and the growth of the 
so-called creative economy. “Virtual Menageries” examines specific
 animal-machine-human entities in the context of these issues, 
and explores their significance to contemporary culture.

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