Stephanie Rothenberg

Dates: August 13-26

Hello! I am Stephanie, an artist and prof from Buffalo, NY. I will be experimenting with sensors and creatures for a larger project that looks at biology as technology and living machines in extreme landscapes. I am going to try and harness the aggressive energy of crocodiles to power the blockchain.

Jonathan Hefter

August 1st – 16th

Project: I’ll be creating 3D digital models of local flora using photogrammetry that others can then use in their own works. With any luck, I’ll have the Dinalab OpenScan device humming away, if it isn’t already.

Bio: I’m a New Yorker with a taste for going far off the beaten path. I’m also the founder of the edtech company, Neverware, and a former firefighter. I will be travelling the world to learn more about how technology is created, used, and disseminated in different communities. Dinacon will be my first destination, followed by Berlin, and then parts unknown. Collaborators and co-travelers welcome.

Peter Marting

Dates: 5-8, 11-14 Aug 2019

I am a behavioral ecologist currently based in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. I have a passion for artistically expressing research, and will be developing a piece that conveys how soil nutrients affects Cecropia trees and their symbiotic Azteca ants.

Adam Zaretsky – Animal Enrichment Arts

August 8 – 21

Our major goal is to make art for a non-human audience. Our work is innovative as we intend to improve designs and methods of expressing art for non-humans by ethological, relational, experiential and aesthetic communication with trans-species in captivity. In particular, we are interested in those animals showing signs of behavioural disturbance, cultural alienation and neurotic personality disorders. The reasoning behind this emphasis is that we would like to underscore the similarities, differences, power relations and mutualisms between humans, non-humans and posthumans all read as particular cases of non-humans.

Conceptual Devices:

For free living non-humans

To give captive non-humans control

For other senses, not our own

MAKE devices intended to:

  • Elicit play
  • Simulate control of the environment by the animals
  • Reduce stress
  • Show animal individuality
  • Show animal group dynamics
  • Show animal problem solving
  • Show quality and integrity of animal consciousness
  • Show enrichment of a particular animal personality
  • Elicit sexual exuberance

The impetus of this lab is to insure the safety and emotionally therapeutic value of an enrichment device. By talking through some of our ideas and actions, we focus on the responsibility to research the beings to be enriched, before designing and actuating an enrichment device. We focus on various research methodologies towards comprehending another organism’s priorities, preferences and perceptions. After talking about concepts, we will discuss how our conceptual devices might be received by actual, non-anthropomorphized park beings.

See Below:

Form for Student’s Conceptual Designs, Team with Enrichment Specialists at the Bronx Zoo, 
Animal Enrichment and Art Studio, Creative Design for Animal Intelligence, Adam Zaretsky and 
Kathy High, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Fall 2003

Actual enrichment technology is not very developed as a practice. The concept is new and due to general underfunding, the administration of professional enrichment is usually spare, both technologically and aesthetically. This problem of “what to do” as a body, to a body, for a body and with a body in relation to the world of living beings is meant to be amplified and left hanging as an artistic production for the purpose of conveying a dilemma. [11] It is presumed that the stimulation of debate is based on the opening up of radical de-categorization. The lab is meant as a primer to open up the way we think about the lives of others, leaving those involved with more informed and wider questions than they had before the experience.


There are interdisciplinary possibilities between theoretical animal studies and the two pertinent science based studies of animal needs: ethology and wildlife habitat restoration. Interestingly “wildlife” is all-organismic and inclusive of anything but urban and suburban, non-human, eco-systemic organisms. But in actuality, the concept of wildness can be applied to all living, nesting and nibbling niches, as there is no habitat outside of the wild. And, in ethology, there seems to be a tacit agreement that the study of animal perceptual universe is not limited to animals. In this case, the term animal can include the study of the non-human if you are willing to research their behaviours, personalities and/or cultures.

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Baked Pig Piñata, Filled with Fresh Dead and Gutted Rabbits and fed to the Siberian Tigers, The Piñatas were paper mache’ (flour water and newspaper over cardboard boxes) sculptures in the form of animals.  These sculptures were then stuffed with safe and animal appropriate meat from the Zoo’s kitchen and then fed to the animals as BIG CAT PIñATAS. All of this was done with the advice of the San Fransisco Zoo Keepers and Animal Care Specialists. No harm was done in to any animals during the Big Cat Piñatas, Art and Biology, Animal Enrichment Class Collaboration Production. In fact Big Cats were Enriched! The Big Cat Piñatas were built as a part of: VivoArts: Art and Biology Studio, C.I.A. – Conceptual Information Arts, San Francisco State University, Taught by Adam Zaretsky with Teaching Assistance from: Julia Reodica + Meredith Evans and cooperative creation by all these artists: Eric Bemberress, Sean Brimer, Arlene Campbell, Carmel Crane, Kristina Hoeh, Yoshi Kawa, Trey Jackson, Josh Lon, Ryan Medel, Mayumi Ota, Michael Rich, Mike Symmetry, Nada, Samuel Tagulao, , Tommy Walker, Zack Wetzel, These documents wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative spirit of openess between San Francisco State University and San Francisco Zoo, 2001, Super Big Thanks to Prof. Steven Wilson, Head of C.I.A., R.I.P. The Zookeepers from the San Francisco Zoo: Eve Lyon and Lori K. and All the Volunteers.

Recent ethological studies have been using a variety of animal behavior analysis techniques to study insects, fungi and cephalopods under the rubric of ethology. Ethologists advise zookeepers on how to keep wild organisms in captivity with the widest breadth of behavioral authenticity available in a “natural” environment. Some ethologists even use animal behavior studies to assess human beings. It is assumed this is to encourage the widest breadth of behavioral authenticity available to humans in a “natural” environment of voluntary subservience, the wilds of domesticity.

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Robot Cat Piñata, Filled with Fresh Dead and Gutted Rabbits and fed to the
Siberian Tigers, Photo Document: Adam Zaretsky, SFSU/SFZoo.

We can provide space for the large carnivores that Dave Foreman’s book, Rewilding North America: A Vision for Conservation in the 21st Century, refers to as “keystone species” (Foreman 2004: 119). Large and predatory non-human mammals are seen as keystone supports for any ecological renewal of future wildlands due to their sophisticated food chain balancing technics and their role as reminders of the awesomeness of large untamables loose on striated and fecund lines of flight. Continental scale conservation is the enlargement and broadening of all parks and future park planning. The Wildlands Project is being undertaken to connect parks with green corridors internationally across the US-Mexican border and across the US-Canadian border so large carnivores (e.g. wolves, bear, big cats, etc.) can have room for their habitat standards. This insistence on the international element is important for both the organisms who don’t know about mapped inventions of national space divisions and for the global fertile integrity which socially habituated imaginations often disrupt.

Currently in progress, the Wildlands Project is hoping to prevent further mass extinction and stabilize vast tracts of land by re-establishing carnivores to control the food chain. At present mostly gun-toting, human hunters who are left to control deer, moose and other game populations whereas Foreman suggests that this is actually the ecologically sound role we should re-relegate to keystone species. Forman is interested in strictly protected areas with low to no roads and minimal human access which conservation biologists call “core areas” (2004: 169). Resilient diversity spaces should be restored and maintained until the area is able to maintain itself

BIG CAT PIÑATAS: Rat with Cheese Piñata, The Rat with Cheese Piñata was filled with Raw Potted Horse 
Meat Food Product and fed to the Lion, Photo Document: Adam Zaretsky, SFSU/SFZoo.

Contemporary insight into enrichment practice is meant to veer our participants towards a decentering of human exceptionalism. Ranging from captive animals to transgenic experimental organisms to genetically modified human suburbanites… the cyborg, posthuman visionary question is: How can we enrich the lives of organisms living under patent and legally considered mere variables towards efficient industrial productivity? We can see that the decentered debate on design of enrichment devices for non-human alienation should include all Homo sapiens stuck outside or voluntarily resisting mind control states, corporations and NGOs. We are attempting to create enrichment devices that make reference for all human others yoked under the same rubrics of untamed disregard often given to wild animals: non-human, sub-human, prisoner, migrant, poor, insane, unemployed, revolutionary, dumb or just artist. 

Rewilding from the Urban Out meets Feeding War Planes to Animals

Making facsimiles of warplanes out of various edible raw foods and setting up a jungle surveillance system for capturing the footage of wildlife eating the warplanes represents a sort of symbolic magical undoing of the past, present and future of war machine cultural exploits. This is my personal mission for Dinacon and for the animals and all organisms living (AOL). I am willing to coach other people towards a more varied interpretation of the overarching goals.

Portions of this text are quotes or amalgamations from:

Adam Zaretsky. “Animal Enrichment and the The VivoArts School for Transgenic
Aesthetics Ltd
.” Inflexions 7, “Animating Biophilosophy” (March 2014). 218-245.
including the Image and Video Accompaniment and PDF here

Advanced Animal Specific AZA approved Enrichment Learning: The Shape of Enrichment

Lucinda Dayhew

August 8 – 22 (approx.)

Hi, I am an artist originally from the subtropics (Sydney), now living in Berlin. I have been researching and making work on the subtropics, tropics, and rainforest ecosystems in recent years, as well as on global patterns and flows of food distribution and certain ubiquitous edible and inedible materials used in mass produced and niche products (plastics, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, gemstones). I make rhythmic objects with text, sound, sculptural assemblage and video, forming repeat patterned motifs for performances and installations, which I use to explore behavioural patterns and systems of labour, energy expenditure, depletion, and exchange. The work often has an absurd or humorous bent.

I plan to work on both a video and a sound work at Dinacon where I’ll make field recordings as well as voice recordings and additional post processed sound with rainforest flora as original sources for larger food crops as a focus. I am interested in the encroachments from the rainforest at Gamboa onto the human built settlements at its fringes where Dinacon takes place, (the Gamboa baseball field and playgrounds, for example) and the reverse process that took place historically, the Panama Canal as a massive human intervention that cut through the forest and landscape, as well as the changes that are taking place now. Human and non human interactions in urban and human made environments within subtropical and tropical landscapes is an area of interest and I will research these topics and seek feedback during the conference where I hope to talk to Dinacon’s field biologists and other local residents as well as Digital Naturalism’s neighbouring biologists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. I also wish to make on-site sculptural assemblages incorporating forest and local food packaging debris, and to use the wood workshop and 3D printer to make sculptural forms using found rainforest and fringe objects as a basis. I will also be researching for an experimental novel I am writing that takes place in various towns and cities in the shifting and expanding (as the globe warms) geographical bandings of the tropics and subtropics. Additionally, I am very interested in birdsong and will make field recordings of the Gamboa rainforest birds.

I am looking forward to meeting you all and finding out about your projects and potentially collaborating with you!

Studio portrait photo by Walker Esner at The Wassaic Project with a few leafy additions from me.

More info:

Paul Clifton

Dates – August 19 to 26

Project – I’ll be working on basic interactions with synthesized audio, probably mostly capacitive proximity sensing and Arduino stuff.

I’m pretty good at Arduino and sensing, so feel free to get in touch with questions. I’d be down to work on some sort of group project as well, if anyone has any big ideas.

Mary T. Miller

Dates: August 25-31

I am a writer, musician (Dezmediah), social worker, and amateur programmer. At Dinacon 2, I’ll be writing an electronic literature piece, which will write automatic poetry or prose using words said at Dinacon.

Wythe Marschall

Autoportrait by Wythe

Dates: August 6–16, 2019.

Project: I plan to research and write an ethnographic article about how the Digital Naturalists form a community, building “swift trust,” and then work together to accomplish various goals. What counts as sustainability for us? What aspects of a living environment should be conserved? What makes a technology instrumentally or morally good? What values characterize digital naturalism as a novel discipline? And what role does it play in global movements for planetary health and justice?

Bio: I’m a Ph.D. candidate in the anthropology of technology within Harvard University’s Department of the History of Science. Currently, I’m researching agricultural technology startups. My dissertation examines the rise of vertical farming in New York City.

I’m also a research associate regarding controlled environment agriculture at Cornell University, a research advisor to the nonprofit FarmTech Society, and a marketing advisor for the smart agriculture startup Grow Computer.

Talk to me on Twitter!

Dr Betty Sargeant from PluginHUMAN

Whilst at DiNaCon (August 14-20) I will collect unique fauna and water samples and take images of their microscopic biological structures. I will also record bio data, including audio, and the movement of gases and moisture, from inside trees and waterways. This data will be used to create PUL$E, a new digital art installation by PluginHUMAN (Betty Sargeant and Justin Dwyer).

PUL$E places audiences in the centre of a multi-sensory experience that’s controlled by the life force of trees. Through this project we aim to forge deep connections between people and our natural environment, raising questions around ecological conservation in the age of economic rationalism. The development of PUL$E is being fed by a wide range of field trips (to the Amazon, Panama, Taiwan, remote Australia etc) where PluginHUMAN are collecting data from significant local trees and waterways.

The PUL$E installation will feature the internal microscopic structure of significant international trees. This data will be enlarged and printed onto acrylic sculptural forms. The printed acrylic sculptures will be lit by full-colour programmable LED lights. The light show will be controlled by bio data collected from the significant international trees. This bio data will reflect the gas, movement, moisture and sounds from inside the trees. Audiences will be surrounded by environment-controlled audio, visuals and aromas in an immersive art encounter.

More info at:

Connect via Instagram: @PluginHUMAN

Connect on Facebook: @PluginHUMAN

Tully Arnot

23-31 August

I’m an Australian visual artist, working with kinetic sculpture (cheap servos, Arduino, pretty low tech) , video, performance, photography etc. My practice deals with how people interact with both the environment and technology, especially at the intersections of these. I work a lot with simulations of nature.

Recent work has been documentary based, I hope to explore the jungle and speak with a lot of researchers, and build some kind of speculative narrative about interactions with the environment. Also keen on some en plain air electronics tinkering 🙂

Stuff online at