Contagious Collaborators and Microbial Kin

Re-worlding in the Company of Infectious Agents beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Luna Mrozik Gawler


COVID-19, COVID-19 lockdown, Posthumanism, collaboration, virus, multispecies, transdisciplinary, speculative futures, multi-modal


Exploring the incursion of SARS-2 COVID-19 into human cultures at the beginning of 2020, this paper investigates how microbial, and specifically viral, worlds might be positioned as beneficial companions in telling the stories of our times and radically reconfiguring what possible futures come next. While most intellectual efforts to understand COVID-19 have had the intention to control, suppress or eradicate it, approaching the pathogen through a posthumanist framework enables the consideration of what viral worlds might invite if approached as a collaborative agency, rather than adversary. How might thinking with and through COVID-19 reconfigure relations between human and non-human worlds in not just the present but also the future? Creating the opportunity for an experiential encounter with this question, Emissary 2920 (E2920) was a participatory, multiplatform, and pervasive two-week experience delivered to local audiences experiencing the rolling lockdowns of 2020 in Narrm/Melbourne. This work positioned participants as time-travelling emissaries from the future Institute of Human-Viral Relations who had volunteered to complete field work and gather experiential, sensory data from within the COVID-19 pandemic.