The Political Animal event, 2nd September 2017, The Showroom

shared from www.olgakoroleva.com

The Political Animal event presents work by members of The Political Animal reading group and its extended network. This was a day-long event comprised of new writing, screenings, sculptural and video commissions, and live performances that reflect upon the conditions of interspecies relationships today. Drawing from studies on animal theory, biology, ethology, philosophy, anthropology and literature, each participant presents their own take on locating the human and other animals within worlds that we have come to call ‘nature’ and ‘culture’.

Continue reading “The Political Animal event, 2nd September 2017, The Showroom”

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A SLUG OR A STONE

love dart curve garden.jpg
A text served up at the Eastern Curve Garden with collaboratively designed Love Dart Pizza. In memory of Arthur Ivens Spriggs.

“The verb “to dart” is not a notion I easily associate with slugs and snails. “Love”, however, maybe. I once witnessed a slug, centrally placed on a gravel path in a London park, lustfully entwining itself with a smoothly eroded piece of flint that resembled it uncannily in size and shape. I love the poorly focused 35mm snap that I took to remember the day. And in retrospect I love the overwhelming intimacy of this small-scale event, an interspecies Pygmalion, set within the everyday banality of a human city passing it by. It was only when we crouched to better observe the slug-flint chimera that walkers-in-the-park got curious and started to gather – and even then they seemed perturbed to find ‘nothing there’ on the ground where we were staring – just a slug, or a stone, or two of one, or neither.

But for me the slug’s tactile and idolatry exploration of a form that echoed its own became a place-marker, a sort of totem event if you like, that I always go back to when I play one of my favourite thought games. This consists of quizzing myself with a philosophical conundrum: “what would it take to make art for other species of animal? Do they make art for themselves?”

In Greek myth Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with one of the statues he had carved. He loved the figure so much that he wished he could meet its human likeness in the living world – until, one evening on returning home, he kissed the statue on the lips and found that they were warm. I can only imagine that for the ‘dusky slug’ (Arion subfuscus) the piece of flint it was kissing felt somehow protective, not warm to the ‘touch’ if slugs can be said to touch on our terms, but seductively smooth and large and solid, given its placement in the midst of a monotonous field of prickly pebbles and heavy mammalian footfall. A sculpture, or readymade, or cairn… how else would a slug view the image of its likeness other than slithering, like a long muscular tongue, over the flavours of its surface? Continue reading “A SLUG OR A STONE”

CA CA (“you be good, I love you”)

have washed in sunlight and taken the gold

found things: gold chain / green ring-necked parakeet feather, Hackney/ Hampstead Heath June 2016 

‘The Smokers’, wrote John Shaw Neilson, with reference to the Regent parrot, ‘have washed in the sunlight/ And taken the gold.’

 

If, after this someone still wants to know what the ‘pure word’ is that stands at the threshold of language, the answer is by now surely obvious. It’s the parrot’s own squawked ca-ca – Italian baby talk for ‘poo’. Only a Freudian would say this is shit. Ka may be the first word in Hindu mythology, but in the history of the New World, it is the ca-ca, the ironic repetition of the should, that signifies, the same sound parodied (parroted?) in Guacamayo’s own name […] in treating the Taino as human parrots, ideally suited for enslavement and conversion, Columbus and his successors ‘parrot[ed] their own fantasies of native intentionality’.  If my speculation, that such communication as occurred took the form of echoic mimicry improvised around the syllable ‘ca’ (hence canoe, cannibal, Caribbean, etc.), then it seems that Wallace Stevens’s Crispin was not far wrong: in future, history, as well as poetry, would be composed of ‘parrot-squawks’.

‘parrot’,  Paul Carter 

green feather

“A human researcher named Irene Pepperberg spent thirty years studying Alex. She found that not only did Alex know the words for shapes and colors, he actually understood the concepts of shape and color.

Many scientists were skeptical that a bird could grasp abstract concepts. Humans like to think they’re unique. But eventually Pepperberg convinced them that Alex wasn’t just repeating words,that he understood what he was saying.

Out of all my cousins, Alex was the one who came closest to being taken seriously as a communication partner by humans.

Alex died suddenly, when he was still relatively young. The evening before he died, Alex said to Pepperberg, “You be good. love you.”

http://supercommunity.e-flux.com/texts/the-great-silence/

Gobbles Sound OK

 

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Panel with Kevin Logan and Richey Cary at audibleVISIONS, Goldsmiths 

 

Gobbles Sound Ok

The real skill of the practitioner lies not in skilled concealment but in the skilled revelation of skilled concealment…

For hundreds of years philosophers and artists have lamented their incapacity to adequately copy ‘nature’, with frustrated attempts at representation only serving to accelerate the increasing fissure between polarized worlds of human and animal. On the other hand hunters and trappers use finely-tuned strategies for aesthetic and audio mimesis: decoy calls and Foley performances draw a hunter into intimate proximity with his/her prey.

‘Gobbles Sound Ok’ explores the critical difference between these contrasting approaches to discourse with and around the natural world. Via Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages, Dijkstra’s theory of image substitution and online hunting instructables, Gobbles Sound OK investigates the production and performance of sonic decoys and hunting lures as multi-sensory, multi-species ‘artworks’ that utilize difference to undermine the boundary between human and animal.