Hybrid Animism: The Sensing Surfaces of Planetary Computation

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2021 Number 104 & 105

Hybrid Animism: The Sensing Surfaces of Planetary Computation
Betti Marenko pages 183-197
DOI: 10.3898/nEWF:104-105.08.2021


This article proposes to examine animism through the perspective provided by a notion of immanent matter drawn on process philosophy (Spinoza, Deleuze and Guattari), and quantum physics (Bohm, Rovelli). It then deploys this perspective to illuminate how planetary computation - the impact of digital media technologies on a planetary scale - is rewiring the cognitive, affective, perceptual capacities of the human. The article puts forward the notion of hybrid animism, as a speculative and imaginative philosophical fiction (‘philoso-fiction’) to grasp planetary computation as a sensorial pan-affective event, and to account for the hybrid techno-digital ecologies humans already inhabit, characterised by ongoing modulation, sensorial intensification and pervasive distribution of computational matter across a plethora of screens, surfaces and surroundings. The value of this proposition, the article explains, is to eschew dominant techno-deterministic narratives: not only techno-euphoria and techno-dystopia, but also the notion of technology as enchantment, with its in-built mystification. By deploying the philoso-fiction of hybrid animism and the un-mediated intuitive sensorial grasp it fosters, planetary computation can begin to be immediately perceived as the expression of new modes of co-habitation and co-evolution of the human and the nonhuman. Finally, the article brings together the nonhuman mutating surfaces of digital matter with cephalopods’ skins to vividly and speculatively illustrate hybrid animism as a thought experiment of sorts.

SORRY - you are not registered as being permitted online access to the full text of this article

You have the following options:

  1. If you are viewing this via an institution or academic library you can ask that your institution takes out a Subscription to this journal.
  2. If you already have a Personal Subscription please login below

    Forgotten your username / password? Click here to locate

  3. Purchase an annual Personal Subscription
    PRINT + DIGITAL personal subscription (£45 / year)
    DIGITAL personal subscription (£30 / year)
    A Personal Subscription provides immediate access not only to the single article you are seeking, but also to all past and future articles in this journal up to the expiry of your annual (calendar year) subscription.
  4. Purchase immediate access to this single article (UK£7.00) - Buy article Coming Soon

To cite this article
Betti Marenko (2021) Hybrid Animism: The Sensing Surfaces of Planetary Computation, New Formations, 2021(104 & 105 ), 183-197. https://doi.org/10.3898/nEWF:104-105.08.2021

Share this