Between animated cells and animated cells: symbiotic turn and animation in multispecies life

Mateja Kovacic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


As media, animation entertains by creating virtual worlds with affective storytelling and compelling aesthetic. As epistemology, animation creates new conceptualisations of life both by being the technology that brings the inanimate into life and by making otherwise impossible visualisations of the worlds that do or do not exist. An analysis of three thematically distinct animations demonstrates the ways animation can engage with the ontological turn in STS studies based on its unique technological and visual capabilities. With a focus on the epistemology of life itself, The Inner Life of the Cell follows the life of a white blood cell ‘in action,’ Golden Kamuy explores indigenous knowledge through unlikely partnership between an Ainu woman and a Japanese soldier and, through a female cyborg, Ghost in the Shell thinks techno-human relations including self-aware AI. The three animations open up new perspectives in turning away from anthropocentrism and West-centrism toward multispecies life. They articulate the idea of the ontological turn within a new framework – the multispecies symbiotic framework in which symbiosis is the basis of life and epistemology of life. Those roles can be illuminaterd by several concepts: symbiosis in biology and anarchist science, multispecies anthropology, ethnography, and science and technology studies following the ontological turn. In multiple ways, animation can contribute new visualisations and conceptualisations of nonhuman and human life and knowledge of life in actor-networks and rhizomatic assemblages.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalScience as Culture
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History and Philosophy of Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Animation
  • knowledge
  • life
  • multispecies
  • ontological turn
  • symbiosis


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