This is the scene, a computer travels back in time. A dolphin falls in love with a computer. A computer falls in love with a dolphin. A computer falls in love with a computer. Two Earth dolphins are launched as Cosmodolphins in the cyberspace or dream-machine of the computer [1] and wake up in the future as a feminist geographer, engaging us in a felt sense of causality.

A transgenic fish falls in love with a computer. A computer falls in love with a transgenic fish. A feminist geographer falls in love with the asthmatic luminous woman of Pirano whose breasts emit a blue glow. A transgenic fish from the past goes into suspended animation and winds up either becoming Donna Haraway or taking Donna Haraway’s place at a critical juncture. 

In the coastal regions of what had been known as Hong Kong an anthrontological curiosity emerges, glowing electron-lucent layers are dense around the locales of intense polyaromatic hydrocarbon and polychlorinated biphenyl records. We study chemical sentiment[2], amongst two plateau anthrokarsts over which our principles become unstable. Moving through tiny cellular structures and chemical envelopes that contradict each other. Brushing up close to compressed traces of fish in Victoria Harbor amongst “the residues from the fossils of manufacturing” (Gabrys, 2011: 150). Like electronic fossils the FOBU-1379 “are in many ways indicative of the economies and ecologies of transience that course through these technologies” Gabrys, 2011: 7)[3].

The FOBU-1379 is the entangled relations of a trace fossil, a transgenic fish engineered to glow, when exposed to chemicals produced by centuries of petroleum dependent capitalism. The FOBU-1379 produces a fluorescent liver protein when in the presence of chemicals such as the Bisphenol A (BPAs), Phthalates, Polychlorinated biphenyls PCB’s and Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that circulate in marine environments. “Material re-combinations… marked by various forms of bioaccumulation, chemical disruption, and toxicological inheritances in nonhuman bodies and environments” (Yusoff, 2013: 16).

We can imagine[4], constellations of green fluorescent light, spreading outwards from the skyscrapers of Hong Kong’s financial district, emerging in a spectacular pattern that appears on the waterfront. Thousands of glowing rice fish—the "GFP Medaka"—expressing proteins tagged with green fluorescence derived from the Crystal Jellyfish, illuminating the green waters of Victoria Harbor in an awesome display. At the historical moment of the GFP Medaka, proteins were impossible to see in a cell let alone track their movements in a living organism. A modified fluorescent protein was weirdly thought to be like seeing the light of a firefly, illuminating the relationalities of invisible waste and toxins from production and consumption.

Through telepathic time travel, along the entangled strings of Donna Haraway, Vincent, the 21stcentury lab technician, explains that the GFP Medaka was a patented "fish product," genetically engineered as a "living" environmental sensor. The GFP Medaka were leased to a startup biomedical testing company, based on the border of Shenzhen and Hong Kong. According to anthrontological research, 21st century, China (the discovery site of FOBU-1379), was the planet’s third largest producer of petrochemicals, and an energetic site of activity for biotechnology (Ong, 2010: 3). This affective economy responded to anxieties of food supply, diseases, epidemics, and the perceived fossil fuel excesses, capital accumulation, and biological crisis of possible futures; “The new biotechnologies [of the 21st century], moreover, enable[d] the materialisation of an expanding national field of power that articulates nonmaterial values such as collective imaginings and affective mappings of identities” (ibid. ).

Fossilised traces of the GFP medaca, suggest the emergence of a new biotic subject, from entanglements of pollution, biotechnology and a particular paradigm of 21st century computing—interactivity [5]. “From the standpoint of interaction,.., the successful running of an algorithm is a performance in the environment (i.e. computation is embedded in the world) and of the environment (i.e. computation needs the world and the data extracted from it to fulfill the algorithmic task).” (Parisi, 2014: 121) The ghostly see-through bodies of the GFP Medaka produce green fluorescent proteins to make intense the most slippery, unknown, unquantifiable, unrecognizable, unmatchable and untraceable traces. The expression of fluorescent proteins when the adult GFP Medaka is exposed can be seen by the human eye, simply by shining a torch. However, in the embryos used for in vivo testing the process is optimized to produce computational arrays that are only visible through computational imaging; their intensities, processed by algorithms. These algorithms are a series of agentile cuts, “based on our ability to manipulate virtual objects we cannot see” (Chun, 2011: 98). In the 21st Century FOBU-1379 emerges as an environmental input engineered to complement the formal rule of algorithms, its endocrine system harnessed as a speculative component of sensing. The GFP Medaka extended the horizon of calculation so that it might include protein production and nonhuman variation as affective variables for computer processing.

Whilst many animal fossils of this era tell the story of extinction and mutation, the life and death of FOBU-1379 is propelled by the cats cradle (Haraway, 1997: 268) of fossil fuel petrochemicals and computational aesthetics. Under the glare of postcolonial capitalism in which nature, commerce and politics are explicitly entangled; the FOBU-1379, the GFP Medaka “straddles the boundaries of life and non life as well as the literal bounds of bodies in ways the introduce a certain complexity of integrity of either lively or deathly subjects” (Chen, 2012: Loc 4096).

It is unclear where the life of FOBU-1379 begins and ends, a material entity in which the human, computation, animal and waste become porous, and liminal; “sites where forces have gathered to a point of impact to instantiate something” (Stewart, 2003: 1). In this spectral vision, as petrochemicals from industry and production of the Hong Kong and the Guanzong provinces circulate, they appear, fleetingly, as glowing traces; illuminated by the bodies of transgenic fish. Entities that emerge through different animating, sustaining fantasies of an affective capitalism. Trace fossil FOBU-1379, talk about a queer intimacy (Barad, 2012)! 


[1] I owe this line to Mette Bryld and Nina Lykke’s from their description of the figure of yin/yang dolphins. (Bryld, 2000)

[2] Chemical Sentiment is an imagined theoretical approach of the future feminist geographers, a sort of mutant version of Ann Cvetkovich and Ann Pellegrini’s “public sentiment.” “In joining “public” to “sentiments,” we aim to challenge the idea that feelings, emotions, or affects properly and only belong to the domain of private life and to the intimacies of family, love, and friendship. …call[ing] attention to the range of ways in which feelings are central to public life, from the deployment of affect to produce national patriotism, to the rallying of audiences on behalf of social forms of oppression and violence, to passionate calls for activism.” (Cvetkovich, 2003)

[3] As Gabrys expands “Fossils—the remainders and residues of technology and media are, then, potent forms that bear the imprint of events (both actual and imagined; they are traces of prior lives, events and ecologies” (Gabrys, 2011: 7).

[4] We can imagine this scene, as the double page color spread in the South China Morning Post that was taped to the Toxicology lab I was a visiting researcher at in 2013 did.

[5] “In our opinion, various approaches to interactive computing share a common goal of pointing towards a new mode of mechanization of a procedure, in which the starting condition of the program does not dictate the procedure’s final output. We can see this mode everywhere, from the imperative of participation in artworks, to social media strategies for user input geared to data-mining via neuro-cognitive mappings that now involve actions and perceptions” (Parisi, 2014: 122). 


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