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Fermenting Communications: Fermentation Praxis as Interspecies Communication

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Microbes are in, on, and around us at all times, yet we cannot easily communicate with them. How do we (continue to) live with microbial life in ways that allow for our mutual thriving? Using a performative lens, this paper analyzes the material practices of fermentation as a way of connecting with different scales of life. It attempts to challenge conventional understandings of communications (e.g. encoding/decoding models put forth by Stuart Hall) by examining the layered manner in which fermentation engages with matter and meaning. The material practices of fermentation require embodied knowledge to work with microbial life, and the discursive considerations of fermentation challenge anthropocentric thought. Thus, materially and discursively, fermentation functions as a continual form of engagement. Thought of as a form of communication, fermentation helps us to consider some of the invisible relations we have with microbes and connect with micro-species we often take for granted.
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Keywords: Fermentation; anthropocentrism; embodiment; materiality; performativity; praxis; relationality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Concordia University

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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  • PUBLIC is a beautifully designed peer-reviewed journal founded in Toronto as an intellectual and creative forum that focuses on how theoretical, and critical issues intersect with art and visual culture. Each issue's editors explore a contemporary theme by bringing together a unique assemblage of Canadian and international art projects with writing by scholars, curators, critics, and artists. This, along with book and exhibit reviews, creates an assemblage of artists projects and original writing on prescient contemporary themes in art and culture.
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