Digital Animism

This workshop was rescheduled from 3/22 to 4/26. This class will take place via Zoom. 

On the internet of things, no one knows you’re a toaster.

Animism is often defined as the belief in the spiritual agency of things beyond the human. Contemporary scholars on animism argue, however, that animist practice need not be religious in its very nature. In fact, it is quite practical. Intimately knowing the temperature, weight, phase, odor, and toxicity of things gives us essential information about our world, and thus, ourselves. Digital animism is about forming correspondence with “more than human” worlds. How do communication platforms enable rampant animist ambiguity? Is the message I just received sent by a financial trading algorithm, my mother, a weather sensor, or a 501©3? It’s hard to tell, and the apparent implication is that within digital networks all are individuals. We’ll probe digital animism’s potential as a form of correspondence with nonhumans, and explore tools to develop a rapport with sunsets, Superfund sites, autonomous vehicles, refrigerators, and the like.

Price: Free with RSVP. $10 Donation suggested.

Audience: Open to all.

Materials: Materials provided.

Austin Wade Smith is a designer, creative technologist, and researcher based in Brooklyn, New York. After studying biology and architecture, he is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union and cofounder of the design studio Helloeverything. At the intersection of human-computer interaction, ecology, pedagogy, and games, he explores spatial design as an enacted form of community assimilation and socio-technical play. He is cofounder of the art / design / technology cooperative Soft Surplus, and enjoys flying kites and cultivating orchids.

About Fruits of the Pluralist
Encouraging non-binary perception and embracing contradiction broadens communication to the world and to ourselves. Would it be possible for the real and the imaginary, start and finish, the articulate and the inarticulable, to not be oppositional?

Fruits of the Pluralist is a program series that explores technological systems and practices that recognize many different kinds of identities, structures, and forms of communication. The series will showcase workshops and activations centered in spatiality and non-binary complexity.

For more information, readings, and related materials, please visit

Please note, this class is held on our second floor. At this time, we do not have an elevator. Please email with any questions or concerns regarding accessibility, or any other questions regarding this workshop.