Much of the literature surrounding my journal article ‘Ethical Art Making – Human Non-Human Creative Collaborations‘ presumes a great deal of prior knowledge about complex ideas relating to philosophy, ethics, anthropology, psychology and geography. This accompanying Glossary summarises some key terms and theories (including, but not limited to, terms used within my paper) in the hope that conversations around this topic may be more inclusive.
Actor Network Theory  

Developed by Callon, Akrich and Latour, ANT refers to a constructivist theory in which everything is related and influenced everything else in a shifting network of relationships. This includes the participation of non-humans (technological, natural, material etc), which are considered equal to human actors. It seeks to challenge assumptions about why things happen.



The field of thought that explores how pleasure is associated with perception. An aesthetic response is when perception results in heightened emotion or feeling.



Agency can be understood operationally as a person, thing having the capacity, condition or state of acting or having power, to produce an action or intervention that produces some sort of effect. We can understand this as having choice, and the means to execute intentions.



The belief that all living organisms, inanimate objects and natural phenomena has a soul.



The still debated, unofficial geological period that describes the time in which humans have made a significant impact on Earth’s climate and ecosystems.


Anthropocentric / Anthropocentrism  

Refers to a human-centered point of view, in which humans are more important or more valuable above anything else. Peter Vardy (1945 -) distinguished between strong anthropocentrism (that humans are rightly at the centre of reality) and weak-anthropocentrism (humans can only interpret reality from a human perspective, so have to be at the centre)



A portmanteau of ‘art’ and ‘activist’, sometimes used to describe creative practitioners or works that tackle socio-political-environmental concerns. Artivism is a similar portmanteau of ‘art’ and ‘activism’.



Autoethnography uses self-reflection, anecdotal and personal experience as a form of qualitative research, that reflects a wider cultural/political/social experience.


Biocentric / Biocentrism  

An ethical stance that argues that all life – not just human – has equal moral value and thus deserves equal moral consideration. Used interchangeably with ecocentrism.


Biotic Ethics  

A branch of ethics that values life in and of itself. There is a focus on conservation, with the premise that acts which sustain life are good, and acts that destroy life are bad.



Commoning refers to the practice of equally sharing property, interests, land, culture or resources between two or more or all in question, an act of collaborating and sharing to meet everyone’s everyday needs in pursuit of wellbeing of individuals, communities and lived-in environments.


Conceptual Art Movement  

Conceptual art is art which the finished final product is secondary to the idea behind the work; the concept is more important than the outcome. The Conceptual Art Movement refers to a period between the 1960s and 1970s in which this approach exploded within the contemporary art scene.

Cosmos / Cosmic  

An orderly, holistic understanding of the universe.


Dark Green Spirituality  

A concept proposed by Bron Taylor (1955 -) describes a set of religion-like beliefs and practices that centre around the conviction that nature has intrinsic value and therefore deserves care and respect. This can include, but does not refer exclusively to, actual nature-based faiths.


Decolonised Approach  

Colonisation itself refers to the action/process of one party (typically, historical European empires) establishing control over the indigenous people native to the area in question. Historically, colonialists committed physical, mental and cultural violence and genocide against communities in order to promote their own ideas and cultures, leading to the ingrained worldview that to be colonised meant native peoples were ‘savages’, inferior or uncivilised. The impact of this has echoed throughout history to result in continued power imbalances and inequities. In a contemporary culture, it also refers to the appropriation, or ‘stealing’ of a place/domain/culture/fashion/ideology that does not belong to you (or your ancestors) for your own use or commercial gain. Decolonisation, therefore, describes the conscious undoing and freeing of historical and contemporary colonial worldviews, a cultural, psychological and economic freedom for Indigenous peoples, and a powerful metaphor for critiquing power and dominant culture. To take a decolonised approach is to include and centre historically/traditionally disempowered voices in conversation (especially in ones that directly affect them) so that the balance of power is more fairly equitable.


Deep Ecology  

An influential philosophy and social movement, developed by Arne Naess (1912-2009) and George Sessions (1938-2016), argued that humans must radically transform their relationship with nature from one that sees it for its instrumental value, to one that recognises its intrinsic value. There are 8 key premises which serve as a guide to help people articulate their own deep ecological positions.


Drawing in the Expanded Field  

Loosely based on Rosalind Krauss’ (1948 -) Sculpture in the Expanded Field (1979), it is a personal, experimental approach that investigates drawing through the lens of another and without limitation. Used interchangeably with the Expanded Field of Drawing, this describes where the author situates her creative practice.



Compassionate ways of being, or doing, that work alongside or on behalf of the Earth, with the aim of nurturing Nature, eco-creativity, and personal and communal wellbeing.



Eco-aesthetics refers to the interdisciplinary approach which connects aesthetic appreciation to the protection and preservation of nature.



Used interchangeably with biocentrism (see definition)



A branch of feminism that highlights the links between women and nature, especially how both are treated by a patriarchal (male-centered) society.



An interdisciplinary area of research that asks questions about meaning, culture, ethics, values and moral duty surrounding environmental concerns. Draws upon environmental: philosophy, science, technology, anthropology and communication.


Eco-literate / Eco-literacy  

An awareness and understanding of the basic principles of nature-relatedness and how to live ethically (in an environmental sense) on our planet.



Also sometimes referred to as bio-mimicry, this describes an evolved – or designed – resemblence between an object or approach and a living organism or natural system.



A branch of phenomenology (see definition) that explores how the environment and the Earth is experienced.



Used interchangeably with Ecosophy and sometimes referred to as ‘ecological wisdom’, this is a philosophical approach developed by philosopher Arne Naess (1912-2009) and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari (1930-1992) that highlights the importance of action and value-based personal beliefs.



Showing a compassionate awareness and understanding to the needs of, and difficulties experienced, by the Earth.



Signs and patterns seen or experienced throughout nature (e.g. animal markings, rock formations, water movements). ‘Geo-wisdom’ describes the lived understanding of these eco-signs.



The intuitive, embodied, spiritual connection between humans and that which is non-human. It may manifest as having religion-like beliefs or practices, and/or elements of environmental activism.


A geographic area in which plants, animals, other organisms, weather and landscape form a ‘bubble’ of life. It’s an ecological system that consists of all the living organisms and the physical environments in which they interact.



A philosophical branch that explores the nature, origin and limits of human knowledge.



If something is esoteric, it is obscure and likely to be valued or understood by a relatively small number of people with a very specialised knoweldge or interest in the matter. It is often used to refer to occultist, religious or magickal practice.


Fluxus Movement  

Influenced by the earlier Dada Movement, Fluxus refers to a movement in contemporary art during the 1960s and 1970s in which the idea of what art could be was opened and democratised. Although most famous for its performance-based works and audience collaborations, Fluxus used a range of processes and materials to provide commentary on social and political issues of the time.


Genius loci  

Originally referring to the protective spirit of a place, but now or usually describing the unique physical and perceived qualities of an environment, it is a Latin term meaning the ‘genius of the place’. Norberg-Schulz expands upon this notion to suggest that human identity arises from this identity of place.


Global North  

An unofficial geographical term that encompasses wealthy industrialised countries and areas, generally located in the Northern Hemisphere (with the exception of countries like Australia and New Zealand). This is in contrast to the Global South, which are less economically developed countries, generally within Africa, Asia and Latin America. Voices from the Global South tend to be overlooked or diminished in global discourse, in favour of the wealthier and more influential Global North.



Describes a person, organism or practice that originates or naturally occurs in a particular place. In contemporary culture, it is often used to describe communities that have held onto early social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that differ to the contemporary dominant society in which they now live. ‘Indigenous’ tends to refer to Native American, Pacific Islander or Australian aboriginal people in much contemporary literature, but is inclusive of any ‘first nation’ communities.


Interference patterns  

Refers to an overlapping of experience (Umwelt) between you and a collaborator. Imagine your experience of your culture, nature, personality, world etc as a grid, and the same of another entity as an entirely different grid. Overlay those two grids to find a pattern amongst the differences between the two, and create something new between the two of you.



Interspecies Art(ists)


When artists explore communication with animals, or otherwise creatively collaborate with animals for a desired aesthetic outcome.


Intrinsic Value  

When a thing (e.g. organism, place, landscape, relationship) has an innate value in and of itself (and not for its resourcefulness). Something with intrinsic value is an end in itself, not a means to an end.


Instrumental Value  

When a thing (e.g. organism, place, landscape, relationship) is valuable because of how it can serve us as a resource. Something with instrumental value is a tool which helps achieve a means to an end.



A needs-based economy, in which everything that is not made by humans (e.g. land, water, air) cannot be owned and is regarded as commons.


Kinship (Ethics)  

Kinship describes familial relationships, or an otherwise sharing of characteristics or origins, yet since everything on Earth is interdependent, environmental philosophy extends the understanding of kinship to include all that is non-human. Kinship Ethics explores this area of familial human:non-human relationships.


Land Ethics  

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) expanded the definition of ‘community’ to not just include humans, but also all the other parts of the Earth as well – the soils, waters, plants and animals – which Leopold called “the land”. The Land Ethic is a moral code of conduct which matures from these interconnected caring relationships with the Earth, which centres around the premise that an action or belief is right when it favours the preservation, integrity, stability and beauty of a biotic community. Leopold has been incredibly influential in the field of environmental ethics.


Limbic Resonance  

Refers to the capacity to share a deep, emotional state between two beings, that arise from the limbic system within the brain. It can be regarded as empathetic harmony that comes from emotional closeness and companionship.


Nature Connectedness  

Describes the relationship between people and the rest of Nature. It is an emerging psychological field that promotes noticing, feeling, beauty, celebration and care to achieve a closer, healthier and more sustainable relationship with Nature, as well as positive mental and physical health and wellbeing.



A branch of metaphysical philosophy that concerns itself with the nature of being and existence.



A sub-category of Panpsychism, it is the view that nothing is intrinsically inert, but rather everything has a will of its own and thus changes over time. This does not necessarily mean that inanimate objects – such as a rock – has consciousness or spirit.


A view that everything in the world – living and non-living – has a mind, unconscious psyche, or soul.



The branch of philosophy concerned with experience.


Philosophy of Organism  

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) challenged the traditional metaphysical choices between dualism, materialism and idealism (see definitions) by rejecting the distinction between mind and matter. He argues instead that perception is part of the object or world (prehension), since everything has some semblance of sentience. As perceivers, we “can be present in another entity”.


Space:time interactions  

A term inspired by artist practitioner Jokela, in reference to the meditative, holistic and aesthetic significance of the time spent doing in nature through movement through natural spaces, and how it permits the individual to really notice and examine the environments objective, emotional and textural meaning. Examples include hunting, foraging, fishing, walking and gardening.


Traditional Ecological Knowledge  

Sometimes called ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ or ‘Native Science’, TEK describes the ever-developing ecological knowledge by local communities as a result of direct lived experience with their local environments. This knowledge often informs the heritage, culture and/or belief systems of these communities.


Transactional ecology An approach that considers the mutually beneficial exchange and functional interaction between people and the environment.

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