[ISEA2010] Paper: Susan Ballard – Nonorganic Life: Encounters between Frequency and Virtuality in Antarctica


“The BwO howls: ‘They’ve made me an organism! They’ve wrongfully folded me! They’ve stolen my body”. _Deleuze & Guattari,1996

This paper is not about Antarctica at all. In many imaginaries Antarctica existsas a virtualized yet real utopia. It is a place known through material productionsthat oscillate between the fictional and the scientific. The discovery of the Don Juan Pond lead scientists towards life formed by brine-derived nitrates (a kind of molecular self-organization by non-carbon sources) and onwards to the possibility of life on Mars. If it is autonomous, can reproduce and evolve, it must be life, mustn’t it? Amidst complex computational models, nonorganic matter is not static; it changes and tying it to either nature or culture is impossible. Antarctica is such an object of study.

  • Dr. Susan Ballard (NZ) is a writer, curator and artist. She teaches Electronic Arts at the Dunedin School of Art, New Zealand. Her recent publications examine utopia, the antipodes, sound, noise, and the contemporary politics of art in digital times. She edited The Aotearoa Digital Arts Reader in 2008.

Full text (PDF) p.  247-249