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Maria Fernanda Cardoso among others

Maria Fernanda Cardos, Intromitent organ of the Notomincia Divera 1 (Harvestman) Opiliones, 90 x 202cm, 2009 (Reprinted 2018)

Digital Animalities: Rendering
November 1–December 15, 2018

Digital Animalities: Mapping
John B. Aird Gallery
October 30–November 23, 2018

Curated by Giovanni Aloi and Matthew Brower
Curatorial Assistant Seb Roberts

Digital Animalities is part of a SSHRC-funded research project entitled “Digital Animalities: Media Representations of Nonhuman Life in the Age of Risk” led by Jody Berland of York University.

Digital Animalities is a two-venue exhibition of artworks exploring human animal interactions in an age of risk. Digital technologies have been reshaping human understandings of animals and transforming the possibilities for human-animal relations. Artists have been at the forefront of exploring these challenges, using the languages and forms of artistic practice to stage, explore, and intervene in these emerging situations. These works present a range of approaches to the themes. They offer models for understanding new possibilities provided by new technologies, critiques of implicit tendencies in the workings and organizations of these technologies, and classifications and frameworks for orienting ourselves to these new possibilities.

Loosely organized under two major tendencies presented in the works, the two venues present complementary experiences of the evolving space of animality in contemporary digital culture. At the John B. Aird Gallery, the theme of Mapping brings together works that suggest how new cartographies organize and orient us. At the CONTACT Gallery, the theme of Rendering brings together works that reveal digital technology’s ability to scan and re-assemble aspects of reality.


Rendering refers both to the process of reducing something to its component parts and to the practice in digital image making of synthesizing a set of data into an image. One of the strategies that artists have employed in thinking about animality has been to explore these two aspects of digital technology: the ability to break things down into parts while preserving relationships between elements and the ability to recombine things by performing manipulations on the resulting data. The artists in the show make use of these possibilities in a number of ways. In some work the rendering is literal and physical while in others the possibilities of transformation offered by rendering are central to the work.

Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s Museum of Copulatory Organs is, on a straightforward level, an exploration of the diversity of animal genitalia. Based on contemporary imaging techniques, including electron microscope scans, the work presents digital models of animal penises rendered photographically and through 3D printing. They cheekily stage the way that new technologies of scanning and reproduction have made different parts of the natural world available to us. In presenting them to us at a human scale they both invite us to engage kinesthetically with species difference and make possible new pleasures in their transformation of microscopic genitalia to the scale of sex toys.