In this article, we present a series of anthotype prints as homage to Tu’i Malila, a tortoise evoked by Phillip K. Dick in the epigraph for his 1967 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” Created with fugitive photographic processes, we describe the images as emerging through a slow and unpredictable practice that allows for intimate sensory exploration of timescales, bodies and memories.
Fugitive Memory 1. Anthotype. Trudi Lynn Smith and Kate Hennessy, 2019-2023.
A story exists in the world about a giant tortoise that was collected in South Africa by crew members on the ship of the explorer Captain James Cook and gifted to the King of Tonga. They were named Tu’i Malila and when they died they were sent to the Auckland Museum to be preserved. The Reuters report on the death of Tu’i Malila was included as an epigraph for Phillip K. Dick’s influential novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” It reads:
A turtle which explorer Captain Cook gave to the King of Tonga in 1777 died yesterday. It was nearly 200 years old. The animal, called Tu’imalila, died at the Royal Palace Ground in the Tongan capital of Nuku, Alofa. The people of Tonga regarded the animal as a chief and special keepers were appointed to look after it. It was blinded in a bush fire a few years ago. Tonga radio said Tu’imalila’s carcass would be sent to the Auckland Museum in New Zealand.
We view the story of Tu’i Malila as an inspiration for Dick’s speculative vision of a world mourning mass extinction, hunting rogue androids, and pondering what it means to be a human being. However, curators at the Auckland Museum — professionals impossibly tasked with preserving human and non-human memory in an always entropic world — would later complicate the narrative with an alternative reading of the story: Tu’i Malila was classified as a Madagascan Radiated Tortoise, with characteristic brownish-yellow lines radiating from the center of each of the shields of their carapace. They presented as biologically female and over their lifetime their shell protected them: the curators noted dents from a horse kick, markings from the wheel of a cart and a split from a fire which also blinded Tu’i Malila. Rather than a gift to the King by Cook, it is more likely that the tortoise was captured and carried on ship as fresh meat, sustenance powering the violence of colonial expansion, and gifted by crew to Tongans.¹ Tu’i Malila still stands as a symbol of colonial interaction that was also revered for its unusual life span, then the longest living tortoise recorded by human beings.
Fugitive Memory 2. Anthotype. Trudi Lynn Smith and Kate Hennessy, 2019-2023.
This story, its literary influence, and its curatorial dismantlings, intersect with our ongoing project Fugitives, in which we use research-creation practice to highlight the generative force of entropy in museums and archives in which things are always breaking down and becoming something new.² Dick, too, was concerned with an analogous force he called kipple, “…a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”³ We are attuned to the fleeting nature of all things in tension with the human-institutional impulse to document and preserve — that is, to live and to be remembered. This orientation brings a melancholy tenderness to our practice, in which we honor the nowness of our collaborations, our personal and family experiences, our more-than-human relations, and their deep entanglements in our creative work and writing across art and anthropology. For the literary critic N. Katherine Hayles, Dick’s androids make visible “the unstable boundaries between self and world.” Boundaries are made unstable by the force of entropy and our fugitive worlding relationalities.
Fugitive Memory Composite. Anthotype prints. Trudi Lynn Smith and Kate Hennessy, 2019-2023.
Compelled to respond to these interwoven stories, we created a series of anthotype prints, titled “Fugitive Memory: for Tu’i Malila.” An emulsion made with stinging nettle and rose petals (plants connected to our own childhood memories in British Columbia and Alberta) and processed outside in the summer sun reorients the images in greenish-brown and magenta hues which we then photographed digitally to accompany this essay. The tortoise shell in the images is a family heirloom that Trudi’s grandfather, a Scottish settler to Nova Scotia and ship’s engineer, collected in the course of his travels. In the now, this tortoise being raises questions about the reshaping violence of colonial encounters and a call to responsibility. Trudi remembers the shell as a child, hiding underneath it, rocking in it, curling into the shape of the absent body. Drawing the thread of her memory through our interest in Dick’s epigraph, we borrowed the shell to photograph. Kate’s daughter, at that time seven years old, was invited to recreate Trudi’s childhood memory. Her toes peek out from under the shell, her long hair and unicorn-print dress spilling out, her small body protected by the carapace.
Fugitive Memory 3. Anthotype print. Trudi Lynn Smith and Kate Hennessy, 2019-2023.
Anthotypes are a plant-based photography made with plant extractions: leaves, stems, berries and flowering heads. The photographic process is known as fugitive, as the images fade faster than other processes, becoming anarchival. Anthotypes are an appealing medium in our practice because they connect us to an everywhere sense of impermanence, to growing and gathering and processing with plants, and to a longer history of photography and human relationships with images and image-making. They are a slow and unpredictable practice, allowing for an intimate sensory exploration of timescales, bodies and memories.
We are fascinated by the longevity of a tortoise who exceeds all human lifespans. What did they see in their long life, what memories did they keep beyond the marks of the world on their shell-archive that curators could observe? In Dick’s novel, most animals have long since become extinct, androids fight for longevity, and the bounty hunter Deckard’s belief in his humanity is measured through memories represented by photographs. The story of Tu’i Malila that influenced Dick’s novel is itself revealed as an unreliable narrative, transformed by science, but perpetuated through his art. Trudi’s memory of a tortoise shell, the curious intimacy of being with it, lives on in the more recent experience of Kate’s daughter as she folded herself into the shape of that same creature; memorialized, for a time, in these fugitive images for the rest of us.
What is it to be alive? For us, today: to remember a giant tortoise, to make art with a dear friend, to weep for the burning planet, to hold your child in your arms who will never, ever be this small again.
Fugitive Memory. Documentation of anthotype solar printing process. Photograph by Trudi Lynn Smith, 2023.
1. Robb, J, and E.G. Turbott. Tu’i Malila, “Cook’s Tortoise.” Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum, 8 (December 17th, 1971): 229–33, 1971.; Slevin, Joseph R. “An Account of the Reptiles Inhabiting the Galápagos Islands.” New York Zoological Society / Bulletin – New York Zoological Society (January/February, 1935), 2–24, 1935.

2. Hennessy, Kate, and Trudi Lynn Smith. “Fugitives: Anarchival Materiality in Archives.” PUBLIC 57. Archive/Counter-Archives (2018): 128–44.; Smith, Trudi Lynn, and Kate Hennessy. “Anarchival Materiality in Film Archives: Toward an Anthropology of the Multimodal.” Visual Anthropology Review 36, no. 1 (March 2020): 113–36.

3. Dick, Philip K. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. New York: Doubleday, 1968, 66.

4. Hayles, N. K. How We Became Posthuman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999, 160.

Stories for Revolution
Obtrusive Relationships
Gathering Multitudes: A bag of stars
Fugitive Memory: for Tu’i Malila
“The Quizumba is On”: Technological Appropriation by Black Women in the Amazônia
Big Green Lies
Letter from the Editors
A guide to the visceral science of time travel
The Unbounded Quest
An interview with Joana Varon
An interview with Jonathan Torres Rodríguez
An interview with futures leader Anab Jain
Where would you like to place your pet giraffe?
Afropresentism – On Incantation and the Machine
Letter from the Editors
A Few Notes on the Cult of Sylphis
Speculative Tourism
Letter from the Editors
Tending to wildness: field notes on movement infrastructure
Aveia, espaçonaves, uma folha de babosa, uma pélvis: fui coletar trechos Oats, spaceships, an aloe leaf, a pelvis: I went to collect parts of the future and decided to turn around.
Προφορικό ποίημα για την προέλευση των Δικτύων Εμπιστοσύνης Narrative Poem about the Origins of Networks of Trust
The Battle to Control the Carbon Media Cycle
Archive of Disappearances
Prototyper la Banlieue du TURFU et transcender la réalité
To Become Undone
Digital artivism: pictures worth thousands of words
Ratios / Proporciónes
Shadow Visions
Letter from the Editor
Future Perfect Continuous
Be Water –  Insights into the Hong Kong protest movement
Care in a techno-capitalist world
HammamRadio, your feminist-love radio station
One Vision, One World. Whose World Then?
Play, imagine, build – the collective verbs
Venezuela – the dual crisis
Letter of the Editor
Terraforms – Or, How to Talk About The Weather
On Persistence: The Past Art/Works of An/Other Future
What the Enlightenment Got Wrong about Computers
Community Learning at Dynamicland
Imagining a Universal Declaration of Digital Rights
An interview with Audrey Tang
Dream Beyond the Wounds
The Blurring
More than HumanCentered Design
The Unpredictable Things
When the Path We Walked Blocks Our Ways Forward
Letter of the Editor
A viewpoint on Craft and the Internet
Who Controls the Internet?
Ethical Tech around the World
Interview with Gillian Crampton Smith
Life & Death
Typographic Craft
The Internet as a Lota
A Medieval Crash
A Gandhian Dream
Evolutionary Craft