Other: Interspecies Relationships
By Jeff Marsch (05/25/09 22:05:06)
Related animal: Ape

After weeks of thinking and trying, I have come to the conclusion that I have no desire or incentive to actively collaborate with a non-human animal for the purpose of making art. I have had little to no success in determining how and why I might do so, and although I find the topic of interspecial relations interesting to think about, the thought process does not make me want to actively engage with an animal in a way in which I might somehow posthumously deem artistic. So I will brainstorm:

when do other species approach me, how, and for what apparent reason?

domestic cats: for scratches and possibly food
domestic dogs: same, or for some physical attention/shared activity (i.e. a run, a game, etc.)
birds: only parasitic scavenger birds like pigeons and seagulls, when they are poaching my food
rodents, skunks, raccoons: same
insects: to lay eggs on me, eat my food, sting me, or suck my blood, give me a disease, so on..
...so far these animals are all human dependent
deer: only seen from afar, never been approached nor have I approached them. they beautiful to look at and watch.

Maybe the topic of the course should be an examination of interspecial relationships in general in relation to contemporary artistic practice, and not specifically centered around the idea of collaboration. It seems cumbersome to have to justify every project as a collaboration when an artwork could be just as important or rich without the active participation of a specific animal subject. Furthermore, considering the prospect of a non-human animal approaching one with the interest of creating "artwork" to be relatively unlikely, it might be much more productive to not confine the potential fodder of conceptual content to the process and of engagement. I have found it much more productive to think about and relate with other species through abstract and metaphorical thought as opposed to direct and physically implicated communication. So if the goal of the class is to be a reexamination and potential improvement of how humans interact with, treat, and view the non-human world, why is it necessary to actively engage with these species for our own purpose? Is it not enough to just think about how one relates to the greater animal world, to study it, to appreciate the existing nature of a certain relationship, etc? If that is the case, then the emphasis can be put on thought and the production of art work, as opposed to the questionably important development of a relationship with a specific animal.

*there is always the thought that I myself would not like to be approached by anyone/creature and forced to do some activity of their design for their personal end...I cannot escape the feeling that although the animal might enjoy the activity, it is invariably a human-activated and consequently one-sided affair. One might speculate as to the selflessness and purity of non-human species, but I would not hold out for the existence of such an altruistic species.

MORE TO COME ******** NOT COMPLETE *********

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