Life Overlooked Workshop
Workshop II was held in February 2014, with the theme Imagining Communities in the Anthropocene: Multi-Species Relationships. This group plans to beta-test two companion projects—“Living with Critters” and “Life Overlooked.” “Living with Critters” will focus on how abundant wildlife (e.g., in one’s backyard, neighborhood, region, etc.), and charismatic megafauna (e.g., endangered species, typically in small populations, and often with little human interaction), as well as other well-known taxa, are leveraged by environmental groups to try to make the public care about animals. This project asks how humans think about other critters. What are the consequences of these modes of thinking and valuing, and how can we change thought and habits of dwelling to include living with nonhuman life?
The companion project, “Life Overlooked,” will focus on designing an interface for people to post images of non-charismatic or “overlooked” species at multiple scales (e.g., life in the rainforest canopy, mushrooms in the Northwest, shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, rhizomatic systems of “great trees”). This digital archive will be juxtaposed with the video archive, “Living with Critters,” to allow those who view the outcome/deliverable of Workshop II to consider the multiple worlds in which species dwell, from the microscopic to the cosmic, from fungi in the soil to the “cosmic dust” that makes up the bodies of all carbon-based creatures on Earth. “Life Overlooked” will test how humanists might intervene in the way scientists and the general public approach their understandings of diverse species, particularly the invisible ones that are critical to the vital functioning of ecosystems. The project will address how the interruption of ecosystem interdependence contributes to problems in the Anthropocene (deforestation, overfishing, the function of “living carbon” in the soil that fights desertification, etc.)