Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Details

Ballard, S. "Nonorganic life: frequency, virtuality and the sublime in Antarctica." Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change, and the Poles. Ed.J. Marsching & A. Polli. Bristol, UK: Intellect Books, 2012, 165-186.


The continent of Antarctica is a heightened location where scale and our stories of the world come together with contemporary understandings of ecology. HuiTe- Rangioras extraordinary journey is a significant foundational narrative of the indigenous histories of the Pacific (Te Ariki-tara-are 1919, Best 1915, Buck 1954, Smith 1904, McFarlane 2008), and takes its place alongside heroic stories of European exploration.Even for those of us who live close by, it i a combination of these histories that frame how we construct and understand the far, far south. Our understandings of Antarctica oscillate between fictional truths and scientific myth as we grasp at what French theorist Felix Guattari (2005, 68) describes as an "environment in the process of being reinvented:' In this sense, Antarctica is a continent formed from information and matter reconstitutedthrough European constructions of Nature. Because of this, any discussion of Antarctica needs to include the European model of the sublime and examine how this philosophical idea continues to determine how many of us relate to the environment around us.