about the lab

About The Lab

The Multispecies Worldbuilding Lab (MWL) is led by Elaine Gan at New York University, Center for Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement at the Graduate School of Arts & Science. The lab launched in February 2020 with funding from the Green Grants Program of NYU Office of Sustainability and the goodwill of friends and colleagues who are staying with the trouble (Haraway) to find ways of living in place, more carefully, less violently.

Combining methods from the sonic and visual arts, multispecies sensory ethnography, field-based scientific research, interactive documentary, journalism, and feminist theories of more-than human worlding, MWL is an interdisciplinary collective of students, scholars, and mediamakers. Together, we know a lot and we know too little. The lab began with a few questions: How might we study and engage with the many lively socialities and sensoria that are more than human? What is multispecies worldbuilding in an epoch of rapid and massive socioecological changes—delightful for some, deathly and devastating for many? What might it mean to imagine futures otherwise, to disagree with fascism and fundamentalism in all their guises, to be human differently?

To consider these questions, our Multispecies Worldbuilding podcast brings together conversations with scientists, writers, and artists who work with specific organisms (farmed, feral, wild, synthetic) or ecologies (for example, Superfund sites, forests, data networks) that are increasingly affected by climate change. Each episode features one interviewee and combines their voice with field recordings and experimental soundscapes to offer engaging and accessible examples of various kinds of research, teaching, and design practices. The episodes are not about the end of the world. MWL seeks to foreground multispecies histories and interdependencies, and ways in which people here and now are tinkering with new languages, playful devices, and extraordinary forms of critical/creative engagement every day.

We hope you will join us — and please tune in!

The Lab:
Elaine Gan, director
Wanda Acosta, web designer
Josh Allen, sound producer and editor
Alexandra Guillen, researcher 
Ernst Karel, sonic ethnographer
Ben Christino Montoya, sound producer
Thaddeus Pompidou, media researcher
Jeff Sterrenberg, video producer
Hannah Tardie, media researcher

With:
Una Chaudhuri, Marina Zurkow, Yanoula Athanassakis, Donna Haraway, Mauricio
Arango, Meredith Drum, Pawel Wojtasik, Marean Pompidou, Ashley Maynor, Helen Pritchard

Thanks To:
Jane O’Mahony and Joann Lee at NYU Green Grants
Dominick Bagnato and Dan Hodnett at NYU Digital Studio/Bobst Library
Nicole Pandolfo, Ariel Looser, and Lori Cole at NYU XE and Howard Besser, Alex Kapelman, Robert Boynton,
Felicity Cain, K. Aleah Papes, Isabella Vento, Jayati Narain, Kristen Torres, Alanna Elder, Amanda Hohenberg,
Sarah Lookofsky, Nick Silcox