Stanford University Press

Documentation

FERAL ATLAS by Anna L. Tsing, Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman Saxena and Feifei Zhou

The following documents the original digital publication Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene by Anna L. Tsing, Jennifer Deger, Alder Keleman Saxena, and Feifei Zhou (Stanford University Press, 2020). DOI: 10.21627/2020fa ISBN: 9781503615045

Download video transcript.

Overview

Feral Atlas invites readers to explore the ecological worlds created when nonhuman entities become tangled up with human infrastructure projects. Seventy-nine field reports from scientists, humanists, and artists show how to recognize “feral” ecologies, that is, ecologies that have been encouraged by human-built infrastructures, but which have developed and spread beyond human control. These infrastructural effects, Feral Atlas argues, are the Anthropocene.

Playful, political, and insistently attuned to more-than-human histories, Feral Atlas does more than catalog sites of imperial and industrial ruin. Stretching conventional notions of maps and mapping, it draws on the relational potential of the digital to offer new ways of analyzing—and apprehending—the Anthropocene; while acknowledging danger, it demonstrates how in situ observation and transdisciplinary collaboration can cultivate vital forms of recognition and response to the urgent environmental challenges of our times.

The project was originally released October 2020 and officially published in 2021 at http://feralatlas.org. It is the seventh publication of Stanford University Press’s initiative for the publication of interactive scholarly works funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Technical Requirements

At the time of publication, reading this project requires an internet connection and is best experienced via any active JavaScript-enabled browser. Current browsers at time of publication include Safari 13.1.2, Chrome 87, Firefox 84, Microsoft Edge 87, Opera 67, and other contemporary browsers. The project includes video and audio and is best experienced on a nonmobile or desktop-sized screen.

Technical Specifications

The project was built using the Contentful CMS and presented via a custom frontend HTML/CSS/JavaScript. When completed, the backend was converted to static JSON data files to be served through the HTML/CSS/JavaScript frontend, and all CMS dependencies were removed prior to publication. The published version of the project is hosted in a LAMP server environment running Cloudlinux 7.8 and PHP 7.4. The application includes a code that identifies the visual display settings for a reader’s browser window to determine which size version of images to deliver. The project runs primarily on JavaScript and does not use database software.

User Experience

A note on navigation, curiosity, and overwhelm: Feral Atlas has been designed to encourage users to chart their own curiosity-driven paths through the site while taking their own time with the variety of texts and media they will encounter along the way. Even then the experience can be disorienting and even overwhelming, especially at first. This is intentional and in keeping with the subject matter itself.

What follows is one of 79 possible “critter-led” routes through the site, with gestures to possible sideways paths along the way.

project cover page
Figure 1

On clicking Enter (see fig. 1), you will arrive at a landing page featuring an assortment of feral entities floating across the screen, each bobbing along on its own trajectory, sometimes crossing paths (see fig. 2). The screen will slowly fill up. When you hover over an entity, its name will appear. Depending on the entity you choose, one of four words will be highlighted: Invasion, Empire, Capital, Acceleration.

project landing page, showing hover-over text for Sudden Oak Death
Figure 2

Text in the bottom left corner invites you to Open the Drawer. Click the three vertical lines to access a series of introductory essays (see fig. 3).

essay page with links to further introductory essays in left margin
Figure 3

The Reading Room (the page from which to access all essays within Feral Atlas) is accessible at the top right.

key symbol
Figure 4

A golden key floats at the top left throughout the site (see fig. 4). Clicking this will take you to the Super Index (more on this below).

Chose a feral entity and click. An explosion fills the screen (see fig. 5).

static screenshot of explosion animation
Figure 5

A landscape emerges. Say you chose Genjer. You will land within the Empire landscape where a red dot indicates the location of this feral entity (see fig. 6).

landscape artwork showing red dot on a lily pad
Figure 6

Hover over the red dot to reveal more about the relationship between this feral entity and the human-infrastructure that promotes its spread (see fig. 7).

landscape artwork showing pop-up Genjer graphic and title
Figure 7

Look around. Black dots indicate other feral entities within this Empire landscape.

Zoom in and out to explore a landscape teeming with feral entities (see fig. 8).

fully zoomed out landscape artwork
Figure 8

Open the Drawer to read essays on Empire and the ways that Anthropocene Detonators transform land and seascapes.

If you click the red dot for Genjer, you will arrive at the Tipper page for TAKE (see fig. 9). Read a brief introduction to TAKE. Scroll down to view a series of video poems appearing in random order depicting the infrastructural processes that lead to the non-designed effects of feral proliferation that Feral Atlas charts.

take page
Figure 9

Select another video poem to view. Or scroll down further to read a short text poem on TAKE. Find alternative pathways through the atlas via a selection of other feral entities (see fig. 10).

bottom of take page, showing critter carousel
Figure 10

Open the Drawer to read about TAKE and the six other Tippers, or Modes of Infrastructure-Mediated State Change.

Close the Drawer and click the flashing red button Continue to Field Report.

Scroll down to read the field report (see fig. 11).

beginning of Genjer field report
Figure 11

Click to open the color-coded Feral Qualities texts in the left margin or below the field report (see fig. 12).

mid-way through the report, a feral quality text section toggled on in the left margin
Figure 12

Click through to field reports on other feral entities within the Feral Quality text. Or access the Feral Qualities essays in the Drawer. In this case, Creatures of Conquest.

At the end of the essay, you will find an array of feral entities associated with this Feral Quality (see fig. 13).

a feral quality essay page, showing critter carousel at bottom
Figure 13

Click these to explore other entities and landscapes. Or close the Drawer to return to the field report. At the end of each report, you are offered a chance to “Revert at your own risk” and “Or explore the Super Index” (in small white letters, see fig. 14).

bottom of field report page, showing revert graphic and super index link
Figure 14

Reverting returns you to the home page of floating, bobbing entities. You can move through the Anthropocene Detonator Landscapes and Tippers to arrive at a new field report with a new set of Feral Qualities.

The Super Index lists all the feral entities (see fig. 15). Hovering over will reveal the author’s name and the associated Anthropocene Detonator and Tippers. In the background a slightly blurry “soup” of other potential entities and categories float past, as a small but pointed disturbance to the apparent order and authority of this index.

screenshot of super index
Figure 15

Clicking an author’s name will take you to their field report. Clicking an Anthropocene Detonator will take you to the landscape. Clicking one of the Tippers will take you to that particular Tipper page with video poems and associated texts and feral entities.

Scroll down from the Super Index to discover the Reading Room (see fig. 16) from where you can access all the other essays and supplementary materials within Feral Atlas. (The “Revert at your own risk” button remains accessible.)

screenshot of reading room
Figure 16

You can return to the landing page anywhere in the Super Index by clicking the “Revert at your own risk” button at top left.

Scroll down further to view the full array of illustrated entities with authors’ names. Colored “critters” indicate that you have visited that field report (see fig. 17).

screenshot of critter array
Figure 17

Click any feral entity to trigger the explosion and reveal it within its Anthropocene Detonator landscape.

Continue exploring!

Technical Structure

The SDR archive collection includes a single public_html.tar file, which, when uncompressed reveals the full structure and contents of the hosted publication. Most of the textual content and data, including essays and field reports, are contained in individual JSON files within the “data” directory. A single large index file at the top-level public_html directory contains a significant selection of the site’s textual content as well, including drawer text, general feral qualities, and captions for flow maps to name a few. If a specific string of text cannot be found in a file distinguished by the essay or report title plus “.json,” it is likely part of the large index file. This data is read and presented by means of custom JavaScript and styles housed in the “static” directory. (This directory contains multiple versions of the scripts and styles as they were updated during production editing. The final publication versions are main.151a5984.chunk.css, 2.2fa01758.chunk.js, and main.65a64fd6.chunk.js.) Media files are located in an images directory in the project’s public_html folder. Multiple image sizes are provided for each image asset, and the project code determines which file version to display based on the user’s system specifications. URLs appear as either ferlatlas.supdigital.org/poster/[name-of-field-report] for field reports or as a search string in cases where the content is compiled from the large index file (e.g. feralatlas.supdigital.org/index?text=[essay-title]&ttype=essay&cd=true). While the hosted project neither links to nor uses an external data and content management system, the index and JSON data files retain syntax and data labels and IDs used by Contentful, the CMS in which the project was authored.

A web archive of this project can be accessed via the Archive link on the project’s cover page at http://feralatlas.org/ or downloaded from the Stanford Digital Repository collection at https://purl.stanford.edu/qj089fs5316.

Credits

CURATED AND EDITED BY

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
Jennifer Deger
Alder Keleman Saxena
Feifei Zhou

DESIGNED AND BUILT BY

Lili Carr (Map Director)
School: Andrew Herzog & Nicky Tesla, with Emma Rae Bruml Norton, Lukas Eigler-Harding, Rahul Shinde
Art Camp: Santiago Carrasquila, Jos Diaz Contreras, Eugene Lee, Ningfeng Zhao, Heewon Kim
Victoria Baskin Coffey (Visual Editor)
Jovan Maud (Copy and Digital Editor)
Gabby Miller (Wrangler)

LUMINARY ESSAYS

Sven Beckert
Amitav Ghosh
Gabrielle Hecht
Karen Ho
Simon L. Lewis & Mark A. Maslin
David M. Richardson
Will Steffen
Terra Forma: Frédérique Aït-Touati, Alexandra Arènes, & Axelle Grégoire

TIPPER VIDEO ARTISTS

Studio Armin Linke: Armin Linke, Giulia Bruno, Giuseppe Ielasi, Martina Pozzan, Katalin Simon
Trevor Birkenholtz & Bruce Rhoads
Isabelle Carbonell
Anna Friz & Rodrigo Ríos Zunino
Duane Peterson

FIELD REPORTS BY

Ernest Alfred
Russell Ngadiyali Ashley
Tom Bassett & Carol Spindel
Susanna Blackwell
Gillian Bogart & Gde Putra
Clive Brasier
Nathalia Brichet
Jericho Brown
Kate Brown
Dieter Bruneel, Hanne Cottyn, & Esther Beeckaert
Nils Bubandt
Matthew Buttacavoli & Geoff McPherson
Zachary Caple
Isabelle Carbonell
Marcela Cely-Santos
Rachel Cypher
Lionel Devlieger
Jacob Doherty
Adrian Drummond-Cole
Pierre Du Plessis
Paulla Ebron
Bettina Fach & Baris Salihogu
Lyle Fearnley & Christos Lynteris
Elizabeth Fenn
Rosa E. Ficek
Irwin N. Forseth & Anne F. Innis
Scott Frickel
Anna Friz & Rodrigo Ríos Zunino
Peter Funch
Jennifer Gabrys
Elaine Gan
Matteo Garbelotto
Scott F. Gilbert
Deborah M. Gordon
Michael G. Hadfield
James M. Hassell, Michael Begon, Melissa J. Ward, & Eric M. Fèvre
Gabrielle Hecht
Cornelia Hesse-Honegger
Iftekhar Iqbal
Norio Ishida & Daisuke Naito
Chris Jordan
Frédéric Keck
Alder Keleman Saxena
Jonathan Kolby & Lee Berger
Agata Kowalewska
Lead Belly (Huddie William Ledbetter)
Alex Liebman & Robert G. Wallace
Audrey Lin & Morgan Myers
Andrew B. Liu
David Mackenzie
James Maguire
Andrew Mathews
John R. McNeill
Anne-Sophie Milon & Jan Zalasiewicz
Lina Mounzer
Ursula Münster
Kelsi Nagy
Katy Overstreet
Alyssa Paredes
Ivette Perfecto
Stephen Pyne
Evelyn Reilly
Bitty A. Roy, Helen M. Alexander, Jennifer Davidson, Faith T. Campbell, Jeremy J. Burdon, Richard Sniezko, & Clive Brasier
Helene Schmitz
Jens Seeberg
David Skelly, A. Z. Andis Arietta, & Max Lambert
Nathan Snow & Gary Witmer
Juliana Spahr
Serena Stein
Lesley Stern
Bettina Stoetzer
Lucienne Strivay & Catherine Mougenot
Mike Sugarman
Heather Anne Swanson
Michael G. Vann
Michale Vine
Martin Vodopivec, Tjaša Kogovšek, & Alenka Malej
Marissa Weiss
Sue Wright
Lei Yang & Fangkai Zhao
Jerry Zee
Alexis Zimmer

ESSAYS BY

Trevor Birkenholtz & Bruce Rhoads
Lili Carr
Victoria Baskin Coffey
Jennifer Deger
Alder Keleman Saxena
Feifei Zhou

DETONATOR LANDSCAPE GUEST ARTISTS

Larry Botchway
Andy Everson
Amy Lien & Enzo Camacho
Nancy McDinny

OTHER CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS AND POETS

Bayla Arietta
Tavish Campbell
Amy Clampitt
Liz Clarke
Ken Cockburn
Imitiaz Dharker
Beth Ann Fennelly
Stanley Tan Hanjie
Jane Hirshfield
Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner
Jaś Kapela
Hiroshi Kawigashi
Rejin Leys
Emmy Lingscheit
Takashi Morizumi
Ruth Padel
John Rego
Nova Ruth
Craig Santos Perez
Valencia Robin
Jared Shomo
Kim Stringfellow
Shaun Tan
Ryan Walsh

WITH GRATITUDE TO

Lokaseena
A. R. Ammons
Mohamad Arief
Inger Christensen
Augustus deMorgan
Seamus Heaney
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Marianne Moore
William Shakespeare
Wislawa Szymborska

SPECIAL ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene
Cooking Sections: Daniel Fernández Pascual & Alon Schwabe
Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts Aboriginal Corporation
Stanford Digital Projects: Friederike Sundaram, Jasmine Mulliken, Greta Lindquist, Alan Harvey
Zander Bamford-Brown
Nils Bubandt
Andrés Camacho
Isabelle Carbonell
Paulla Ebron
Anna Friz
Peter Funch
Elaine Gan
Jennifer González
Donna Haraway
Bruce Keleman
Caleb Kingston
Mia Korsbæk
Adrian Lahoud
Jessica Madison Pisatá & Kathryn Gougelet
Fabio Malfatti
Warren Sack
James Scott
Jane Sloan
Abram Stern
Heather Swanson

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

Maria Breil
Rachel Cypher
Pierre Du Plessis
Kirsten Keller
Sathvik Nori
Katy Overstreet
S. M. Pruis
Zahirah Suhaimi

DESIGN & UPLOAD ASSISTANTS

Nicole Deger-Beauman
Matthew Buttacavoli
Matthew Darmour-Paul
Mirana Rideout
Fikriyah Winata
Kathryn Gougelet (Janet Batz, Riley Block, Rueben Cantacuzino Levy, Brandon Cornell, Queenie Don, Joseph Duerr, Chiara Fishburne, Nona Golan, Benjamin Gonzalez Cueto, Natalie Griffin, Yingshi Liang, Tara McAteer, Alejandro Morgana, Woodlyn Rhodes, Samuel Webster)

DRAWING ASSISTANTS

Maria Saeki
June Tong
Limal Harris

WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR FUNDING FROM

Danish National Research Foundation
James Cook University
Aarhus University
Aarhus Universitet Forskningsfond
University of California, Santa Cruz
Royal College of Art