This site is a collaborative research space for documenting the progress of art projects made together with non-human animals and for posting resources relevant to such endeavors.

There is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting interspecies altruism and new scientific research is starting to corroborate those anecdotes. A current study with chimpanzee toddlers indicates that they harbor something akin to interspecies altruism. Everyone living with a pet can testify that their non-human companion seems to know and respond to their needs. In some extreme cases, pets have been known to aid their owners during an acute or chronic illness or an accident. But it doesn't end there - animals of different species who don't know each other often provide help and comfort to one another. We hear amazing stories such as the gorilla who rescued a 3-year-old boy who fell into her zoo enclosure, the hundred years' old tortoise who "adopted" a baby hippo orphaned in the 2004 tsunami, and numerous accounts of interspecies nursing. Could this willingness to support each other across species barriers be formalized into collaborations? Could we be working on artistic and scientific projects together with non-human animals? Both animals and humans would have much to gain by such collaborations. Imagine what we could learn about the world by experiencing it with or through a profoundly different being. In addition, interspecies collaborations could generate unprecedented respect and understanding of other species.

The prospect of interspecies collaborations seriously questions our leading scientific and artistic (and religious) paradigms. How do we conduct research in collaboration with someone whose experiences, sensations and knowledge cannot be understood, and certainly not quantified? How do we make a meaningful reading of an artwork when we cannot be sure there is an intention behind it, and even less certain about what that intention could be. Both the scientific world and the art world have a long tradition of using animals. How do we transition to collaboration? How can we interact meaningfully with an "other" that has been conditioned for centuries, if not millennia, to mistrust us? How can we use technologies to enable and facilitate these collaborations?

Lisa Jevbratt

The site was originally developed for the class "Interspecies Collaboration" (Art 185LJ/ART130) at UCSB Spring 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014. The site is still being developed so please be patient, new functionality will be added, and the site might be down completely at times.
Background image by Laura Hyatt from her project with Dru: Ode to Richard Long.