Reflection: Interspecies Communication
Me and my Bird
By Erik Shalat (05/20/13 09:53:39)
Related animal: Bird

After deliberating it with myself for a while I had an epiphany regarding my final project. Iíve postulated several ideas up until now for what I could do as art experiments with animals, but my heart was never in any of them. Throughout the quarter iíve constantly brought up my pet cockatoo Toby as a personal reference point for my experience with animals, but iíve never thought to do anything with that. I happen to have a fair share of footage and images of my bird through online video-chatting with my parents. They always like to share with me how the bird is reacting to my absence, and then they always get me to say something over the phone and see how Toby reacts to the sound of my voice. I was essentially already doing a very personal version of a animal sound experiment that weíve seen examples of over the course of Spring Quarter.

Iíve been collecting videos my father has sent me over the course of the year, and weíve decided to start recording more of them so that I can compile them into a single video. So far his reactions range from mild confusion and disinterest to putting his crown up and saying my name.

Toby is a very... attention starved creature. I am his favorite human in the world, iíve had him since I was seven years old. I taught him all of the words he knows... well, both of the words he knows; hello and Erik. I spent more time with him than anyone else. This developed into a somewhat unhealthy relationship, as when iím not around he gets depressed, but when I am there he gets overly excitable and aggressive. He used to only bite me, but now he has started biting my parents as well. They said if this continues they might have to take him to a bird sanctuary. As much as I hate what the bird does, I love him unconditionally. I donít think iíll change anything by making this art project, but it would capture the better more loving aspects of my relationship with Toby.

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