The project is a vehicle for raising people's awareness of other beings experiences of and agency in the world. It wants to show that there are multiple perspectives of our world that are all equally valid. Speciesm is a cousin to racism and sexism, and it is no more just than those. ZooMorph aims to flatten the species hierarchies overwhelmingly prevalent in our cultures. Working with vision is of course just one of many possibilities for such an agenda. However, I have come to realize that philosophically, the field of vision has a great metaphorical and political potential for an animal rights agenda.

It is commonly believed that non-human animals don't have a good sense of vision, that humans are the visual animal. To start with, this is of course a factual mistake - take the mantis shrimp: it has the potential for a far superior sense of color than we do with its twelve types of color receptors vs. our three. In addition the statement is loaded with anthropocentric assumptions and xenophobia. Vision has been considered to be a "higher" sense, the sense connected to reason and consciousness itself. Because vision allows us to perceive things at a distance, without being physically involved in what we perceive, it seems to generate a more objective knowledge, a type of knowledge we are not willing to share with other species. Animals are thus often assigned the "messy" subjective senses of smell, taste and touch, related to bodily activities such as feeding and procreation, which demand closeness with what is being sensed. From the antiquities to the renaissance the animal gaze has been considered a dangerous ray capable bewitching us and even killing us.  Today the response to the animal gaze is very different, but equally troubling. The German filmmaker Werner Herzog represents this view in his movie  "Grizzly Man". There he orates about the "empty stare" of the grizzlies, which according to him, reveals no kinship, only an "overwhelming indifference of nature" and a "half-bored interest in food".  How did we end up in a place where we believe that the gaze of an individual of another species is either a dangerous weapon or completely void of a presence behind it?  ZooMorph does not attempt to answer this questions but it does attempt to disarm and repopulate the gaze of the animal in order to make it increasingly difficult for us to marginalize the needs and rights of individuals of other species. 

"Echoing [John] Berger [in Why Look at Animals], Derrida [in The Animal That Therefore I Am], argues that "from Descartes to the present", in Western cultures, "the language both of ... refined philosophical argumentation and of everyday acceptation and common sense" has been structured by the refusal of human beings to take "account of the fact that what they call 'animal' could look at them, and address them from down there, from a wholly other origin." Unlike Berger, however, he believes that this tradition can be disrupted - deconstructed, perhaps - by an encounter with the gaze of any animal, even a little house cat."                                       
 Philip Armstrong "The Gaze of Animals" 2009

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