This pathway emerged from the free association of artifacts that we identified as sharing affinities with one another. We began by sorting a group of artifacts we affectionately termed “creatures.” Upon reflection, it was clear that these artifacts did more than represent creatures: they were attempts to interpret, translate, hear, understand, or coerce the natural world. This pathway thus became a chart of attempts to know the natural world, but ultimately it really mapped ways in which humans become more knowable to themselves as they attempt to understand animals, plants, and other forces.

The pathway is mapped as a spiral to evoke the “spiral dance” in Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto where humans, technology, and the idea of nature are entangled in a co-constituting ontology. At the tightest inside coil of the spiral is the artifact Hungry Listening, which speaks not only to a human subject position, but to a colonial one. From there the spiral uncoils in its attempts to understand the world, through human articulations of Mother Nature, to voyeuristic attempts to see and know in Borealopelta, Seagrass Sonification, and Sea Sponge. Animal Songs unspirals the relationship between humans and non-humans further when the human calls to the cow in its own voice. Anthropologies Imaginaries prompts questions about the human attempt to know and categorize others and Picturing Sacred Birth exemplifies how people reinterpret belonging in the natural world through their bodies. In its final uncurling, the spiral presents God is alive and She unnames them as two attempts to encounter the natural world outside of human intentionally and control.

What kind of interpretive work goes into human relationships with the natural world? In what language can we speak to creatures? When is a human an animal and when is it not?