Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Octopus Armor

Yes, this on the heels of Lester Shubin's death... Octopuses has learned to arm itself.

: "The coconut-carrying behavior makes the veined octopus the newest member of the elite club of tool-using animals"

armor: "An octopus would dig up the two halves of a coconut shell, then use them as protective shielding when stopping in exposed areas or when resting in sediment."

(note: link includes cool video of this event)

RIP Lester Shubin

Dear Lester, your work here on earth is done. You've supplied the animals with functional gear for the revolution. Indeed, animals haunt the techne produced by Shubin and they will put it to good ends.

Shubin is responsible for the invention of the Kevlar bullet-proof vest. He had heard about the substance developed by DuPont, a material which is light as nylon but tough as steel. He began testing it as an armor. He first tried it on a gel then on goats. . . . ah, the unfortunate goats deformed and lost in this... they will haunt the materials for the revolutionary future(s).

Shubin is also responsible for bomb-sniffing dogs. Yes, we've militarized the beasts. (Think the comic We3).

Addendum: the military practices its field war zone medical "tissue training" on goats. Video footage shows "shears and scalpels being used to inflict wounds and amputate the legs of anesthetized goats so trainees can practice war zone emergency techniques"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cows send tweet messages on Twitter

Local Woodstock, Canada dairy now has its cows twittering out their dairy diary. You can follow the day in the life of the beasts!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A stroll in the woods gone bad...

"Swedish police say they've cleared a man who was arrested for allegedly murdering his wife after deciding the culprit was most likely a moose.

Police spokesman Ulf Karlsson says 'the improbable has become probable' in the puzzling death last year of 63-year old Agneta Westlund. She was found dead after an evening stroll in the forest."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Cattle on strike!

A popular children's story carries the seeds of revolt: Click, Clack, MOO by Doreen Cronin (author) and Betsy Lewin (illustrator). You can follow the video version of the story in the link above.

The cattle get a hold of an old typewriter in the barn. They begin to type demands to the farmer: give us electric blankets for cold nights. The farmer refuses and the cows bar him from the barn and refuse to give up their milk.

Besides the tale of humane treatment to animals, besides better treatment creating higher milk yields, there is a more complex story of language, animals, and revolt using technology.

Wild sheep in Iceland are captured

Thanks to Bryndis Snaebjornsdottir for calling this to my attention. As she describes it "In the north east of Iceland they found a small flock of 'wild' sheep that had become a special breed, 'mountain sheep. Sheep are not allowed to be wild so they had to be hunted, caught and killed - view the death of the wild Icelandic sheep. Apparently 5 sheep escaped but another trip is being planned to exterminate them.

The idea that humans make the final call on what is "allowed" to be wild and what must be domesticated and/or slaughtered is the hubris of humanism. Call in the commando sheep.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wild dogs commute for food.

Scientists believe the phenomenon began after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, and Russia's new capitalists moved industrial complexes from the city centre to the suburbs.

Following the post-Soviet ice skating bear who mauled his trainer, there is this. It seems the revolution is catching on among the animals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Russian bear begins the non-human revolution

This is the post-soviet animal revolution. A bear on ice-skates mauls a trainer and kills a handler. He has learned well from the Stalin years that there is blood in the future to come. No doubt the bear died but it was a martyrdom of the animal revolution to come.

signs of an animal revolution

Thanks to the astute philosopher David Clark for this.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bat Tower and Architectures to come

Nagel posses the question "What is it like to be a bat?" Heidegger claims that humans become human through their building-dwelling-thinking triad. Now, what happens when one builds for another species? Do we become more human or more animal?

These questions are posed by the monolithic and haunting Bat Tower in Sugarloaf Key (mile marker 17 in the keys). The tower was built in 1929 with the notion of using bats to eat the misquotes and other pests and so combat malaria in the area. The tower was built by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner, according to designs from Charles Campbell, a pioneer of bat studies. Bats were bought in from Cuba and Texas to inhabit the tower but eventually flew away and disappeared. No one knows what happened to the bats and the tower stands awaiting bats of the future haunted by bats of a mysterious past.

Some great images of the tower are available online.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beasts terroised Julius Caesar. Now the are back... in Devon

This was the front page headline for The Times April 22, 2009 as I arrived in Liverpool to give a talk on animal incidents at the Animal Revolution symposium at Hope Liverpool.

The article is actually a good political history of cattle. It notes taht the last auroch died in the royal Jaktorow forest in Poland. Heinze Heck conducted Nazi experiments to genetically back-breed modern cattle to the aurock wildness: "The heard has Herman Goering, the head of Hitler's Luftwaffe, to thank for its existence. Goering hoped to recreate a primeval Aryan wilderness in the conquered territories of Eastern Europe" (15).

The Heck cattle were imported into Devon by Derek Gow, a conservationist who also led the fight to re-introduce the beaver into the UK (after several hundered year without the dam animal). He brought them over from a anture reserve near Amsterdam where 600 Heck cattle roam. The animals are particularly fast and a bit agressive. Gow "intends to breed tehm, selecting the more placid animals that are less likely to react to curious pekinese as though it were a maurauding carnivore." Backbreeding to an "original" but breeding out the agression of nature... a curious shifts in standards here for the benefit of humankind.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burns "To a Mouse"

Inspiring stanza:
I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

City of Pigs

In Book II of Plato's Republic, Glaucon call's Plato's simple and unadorned city a "city of pigs" that needs to be humanized by moving from stark necessities to luxuries (including art). He is sort of prodding Plato about human nature. So, the swinish multitude in Plato?! Here is the excerpt, see
---But, said Glaucon, interposing, you have not given them a relish to their meal.

True, I replied, I had forgotten; of course they must have a relish-salt, and olives, and cheese, and they will boil roots and herbs such as country people prepare; for a dessert we shall give them figs, and peas, and beans; and they will roast myrtle-berries and acorns at the fire, drinking in moderation. And with such a diet they may be expected to live in peace and health to a good old age, and bequeath a similar life to their children after them.

Yes, Socrates, he said, and if you were providing for a city of pigs, how else would you feed the beasts?

But what would you have, Glaucon? I replied.
Why, he said, you should give them the ordinary conveniences of life. People who are to be comfortable are accustomed to lie on sofas, and dine off tables, and they should have sauces and sweets in the modern style.

Yes, I said, now I understand: the question which you would have me consider is, not only how a State, but how a luxurious State is created; and possibly there is no harm in this, for in such a State we shall be more likely to see how justice and injustice originate. In my opinion the true and healthy constitution of the State is the one which I have described. But if you wish also to see a State at fever heat, I have no objection. For I suspect that many will not be satisfied with the simpler way of way They will be for adding sofas, and tables, and other furniture; also dainties, and perfumes, and incense, and courtesans, and cakes, all these not of one sort only, but in every variety; we must go beyond the necessaries of which I was at first speaking, such as houses, and clothes, and shoes: the arts of the painter and the embroiderer will have to be set in motion, and gold and ivory and all sorts of materials must be procured.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Correlary to Are You Being Served--they are killing us

Kathy Ferston has an good essay called "Shattering the Meat Myth: Humans are Natural Vegetarians." She assembles a series of authorities on the matter including:
Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, "Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores."
Roberts ain't saying anything most nutritionists don't already know. He is just saying it with more studies and institutional backing. Ferston's other authorities include some noteworthy anthropologists. What interests me for this blog entry is that "they end up killing us."

Given the very high percent of Americans and Europeans who are overweight, the problems of incorporation of cattle can even lead to issues of morphological change of humans in the 21st century. That is to say, we manage cattle and we eat them, manage and manger. Because we eat them we shape and manage them a particular way. Incorporation as eating is managed by corporations as businesses. Corporate chains from fast food icons such as McDonalds to steak houses such as Longhorn (which serves more polled than horned cattle) make demands on breeders and farmers. So, we change the beast according to these demands. Yet, they change us as we digest globally homogenized and overly processed animal products.

The Attachment (are you being served?, part 2)

With the painting The Attachment (1829), Sir Edwin Landseer joined William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott in memorializing a dog who stayed by the side of his master when he died from a fall off of a cliff in the Lake District. As William Hunt (or was it Charles Lamb?) commented, what do they think the dog eat for the weeks he was alone at his "master's" side? Yes, the master!

Are you being served?

This from Eugene Thacker: "To Serve Man" episode from the Twilight Zone (also parodied in The Simpsons). Intelligent aliens arrive on earth to "serve" the human race. . . to help them or to eat them? How will we be assimilated into the [u.f.o.] verticality from the alien Other?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

nonhuman tones

Marcus Coates and Chrome Hoof are teaming up at The Coronet Theatre on Friday June 5, 2009.
Does the animal revolution have a music? Would this be it?

Like a note from the future, the already formed hauntings of future animal messages arrives to us in protean forms. Who are these carriers of the animal futures? not men, quite, nor animal but suffused with chrome, electricity, fur, and wobbling voice they come.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bull Figher gets the point

Isreal Lancho is gored by a bull. "Spanish bullfighting fans witnessed the ultimate ring horror on Wednesday when matador Israel Lancho was gored." Is this really the ultimate ring horror? Have you asked the bulls killed regularly in the ring? Ask this bull how he felt about the event? Who is talking to the bull on this one?

For the fighter, things are serious: "According to press reports, Lancho had a 25 centimeter-deep stomach wound that surgeons operated on."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Humans kill & eat Neanderthals

This from the Observer confirming human animality at a brutal scale and with ecological results that echo present concerns:
One of science's most puzzling mysteries - the disappearance of the Neanderthals - may have been solved. Modern humans ate them, says a leading fossil expert.

The controversial suggestion follows publication of a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences about a Neanderthal jawbone apparently butchered by modern humans. Now the leader of the research team says he believes the flesh had been eaten by humans, while its teeth may have been used to make a necklace.

Fernando Rozzi, of Paris's Centre National de la R├ęcherche Scientifique, said the jawbone had probably been cut into to remove flesh, including the tongue. Crucially, the butchery was similar to that used by humans to cut up deer carcass in the early Stone Age. "Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and in some cases we ate them," Rozzi said.

The idea will provoke considerable opposition from scientists who believe Neanderthals disappeared for reasons that did not involve violence. Neanderthals were a sturdy species who evolved in Europe 300,000 years ago, made complex stone tools and survived several ice ages before they disappeared 30,000 years ago - just as modern human beings arrived in Europe from Africa.

Monday, April 27, 2009

After a US Airways Flight was struck by a flock of Canadian Geese (illegal immigrants that they are), a recent study shows bird attacks are on the rise nationally.

Ballinrobe Bull in the market

A bull in Ballinrobe busts lose from his fate as beef and heads for town. He enters the local market and runs through the aisles. Now the customers and workers are the meat being targeted. The farmer comes after the beast only to be run off by the bull he was looking for.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu and Cross-species contagions

Having some time ago written in Technologies of the Picturesque about the anxiety of innoculating humans with cow pox to cure small pox, I've often mused on cross-species contagions. Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel sees European adaptation to livestock diseases over the centuries as key to the Euro invasion of the Americas. Native American populations unaccostumed to these animals and their diseases died as a result of this germ warfare.

Today, we are all susceptible: avian flu, swine flu.... We've used pig parts to enhance humans--pig hearts, harvesting pig parts to fit in us. Now, the connectedness to swine has, like a return of the repressed, come back to haunt us (in ways similar to mad cow disease affecting humans). Spawn, spore, rhizome. I am Legend. We're woven into the animality of animals as they to us beyond cultural appropriations.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Revenge of the Easter Bunnies... a rabbit swarm

Bioinvasion of released pets. The once companion animals now stake their claim on the terrain: "Green iguanas released decades ago now splash in the pools of Palm Beach. Peacocks roam free in parts of Miami, Burmese pythons are spreading through the entire state — and here, on this two-mile shoelace of beachfront land, the bunny problem keeps multiplying.

Dozens of rabbits, the spawn of Easter gifts from as far back as 2002, now run wild in a field of two-story condominiums. "

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I find compelling this picture of Bo Obama sniffing a microphone. Yes, there is a leash but what strikes me is his interface with his celebrity status (made evident by the media as if he were on stage). What does Bo do with all the mics around? He leans in, sniffs. Dogs see the world differently. Here is a big moment for potential animal revolutionary media attention. Bo could announce an animal revolution and broadcast using the media outlets. Instead, he sees the mics and sniffs. What is important to us is for dogs something to sniff, eat, or pee on. The revolution will not be televised.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Enemy Within--Hedgehogs

The Colbert Report recently released the news: Hedgehogs are the new terrorist threat. They carry a number of incurable diseases that can be passed on to humans. We have seen animals pass on diseases to humans before, plagues and infestations. The hedgehog burrows its animality within the heart of our domesticity. Beware.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Monkeys seize moment to escape

In Portland, Macaques, or snow monkeys bust out of the Oregon National Primate Research Center intending no longer to be breeding monkeys. According to the AP: "HSU has long been criticized by animal-rights groups, who say the research monkeys are mistreated."

Sunday, April 5, 2009


"The chicken, the chicken has declared jihad on us all." Chicken-headed humans and lots of feathers in this B horror film. In Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, possessed humans and humans with chicken heads invade a fast food restaurant and begin cutting up, gutting, deep frying and otherwise mutilating and eating humans. (Thanks to Eugene Thacker for pointing me to this). Think of Agamben and Battaille's headless humans and the teleology of the human end of days on earth, add infectious disease (by zombie possession), plus feathers as friction.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Apparently the sports talk radio host Tony Kornsheiser has been broadcasting news of the animal revolution on his radio show. His animal incidents--real and imaginary--get the word out that the animals are not pleased with human encroachment and domination of non-human environments.
'The Animal Revolution: The idea that animals -- who are threatened by the expansion of the human population, and the encroachment of cities and suburbs upon their habitats -- are revolting against humans. Examples include rabid otters chasing golfers on the course, captive lions on top of a Mexican meat processing plant killing a man attempting to feed them, cats growing wings as the precursor to an animal air force, alligators banging on doors in South Florida and the "rat in the mouth" story. Brennan frequently fills the news updates with animal-centric stories'.
Thank you, Kornsheiser, for getting the word out to the revolutionary masses. Like Castro in the mountains before the revolution, the liberation radio is filling the airwaves with word of a revolution to come and, indeed, already underway. Perhaps this is why the show is currently off the air, the humans are on to us. Time to set up a new base camp.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WE3: animal+techne, posthumanism in action

"A dog, cat, and rabbit have been adapted by military scientists into automated fighters, resembling cyborg robots with animal heads. When the project is about to be shut down, the three escape. Here, they’re not seeking a home so much as continued survival, even in their tortured state. Their quest for freedom and the way they no longer fit anywhere — they’re not animals, not soldiers, and distinctly not human — is immensely sympathetic. The result is a condemnation of a military/industrial system that warps living things and then discards them without thought of the potentially devastating results."

Review at Comics Worth Reading. The DC Comics website for the graphic novel. Anntennea art journal issue 9 has an interview with Grant Morrison (the comic's writer) who worked with Frank Quitely (illustrator) on this project.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pets trip up humans when they are not looking

More than 86,000 Americans wind up in the emergency room every year because of falls related to cats or dogs. That’s about 1% of all fall-related ER visits. This according to the CDC's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal cover the report.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

We will not be rent asunder

Calling themselves "Flavoristas" the capitalist machine tries to co-opt the bestial revolution and its herds

We will not be daunted. Animals of the umwelts, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"to come"

"A male chimpanzee in a Swedish zoo planned hundreds of stone-throwing attacks on zoo visitors"

"There has been scant evidence in previous research that animals can plan for future events. Crucial to the current study is the fact that Santino, a chimpanzee at the zoo in the city north of Stockholm, collected the stones in a calm state, prior to the zoo opening in the morning."

Fredrick Young has provided the following comment on this event:
"A beautiful passage on your animality blog! Yes, the chimp in the Stockholm zoo (zoe) collecting stones, planning an attack on the futurity of a passive Dasein. A strategy of waiting, stocking, mobilizing zoe against bios--a formation of an animality-to-come as a fictive concealment as poor-in-world, yet strong in stone (weltlos.) The chimp will get behind Dasein's 'being-thrown.' A stones thrown as a constellation exploding (jetzeit)the horizon of questions, Being-in-the-world, and living toward a goal, full of merit or in depression or angst. The Chimp missive of the future to come will hit the mark of a calculated future of 'man.' The animalities-to-come investing in Stockholm syndrome futures as an epistemology of new prison writing. A being-with of resistances concealed in human form by Negri, X, King, Gramsci, Goldman, etc. The assemblages repeat the 'with' each time differently casting the 'being' by folding back into its old ontic-ontological traditions of arrest..."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Calif. aquarium blames flooding on curious octopus

Santa Monica aquarium blames the soaking they discovered Tuesday morning on one of the two aquarium's Kid's Corner resident spotted octopi, a tiny female known for being curious and gregarious with visitors. The octopus apparently tugged on a valve to the recycling water tube and that allowed 200 hundred gallons of water to overflow its tank.

Aquarium spokeswoman Randi Parent says no sea life was harmed by the flood, but the brand new, ecologically designed floors might be damaged by the water.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chimp attack!

Chimpanzee attacks "owner."
de Waal "I don't know where people would find these animals or why you would want to have them. Even if a chimp were not dangerous, you have to wonder if the chimp is happy in a human household environment."
[update: congress gets involved by passing the Captive Primate Safety Act]

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Birds are on the move

After the US Airways Flight 1549 which I discussed on 2/7/09, the New York Times reports that we are tracking birds by putting lightweight "backpacks" on them. In a separate article, we are finding out that because of global warming, birds are moving further north: "The boreal chickadee has moved 280 miles north, almost out of the range of the lower 48 states. The marbled murrelet, a seabird that breeds inland, has moved 360 miles north. The wild turkey has gone about 400." Such shifts in biotopes makes evident the nomadic character of the Animal Revolution.


The wonderful thing about cryptozoology is that it works with virtual worlds, alternative time scales, biotopes that run parallel or occasionally intersect our own. University College London has a list of ongoing events and ways of thinking about this topic.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bloody Revolution starts in France

And now the Chef of State is the one bitten:
"Former French President Jacques Chirac was rushed to a hospital after being mauled by his pet dog who is being treated for depression." The dog named Sumo is a white Maltese poodle. Does your dog bite? The Fox New story continues: "has a history of frenzied fits and became increasingly prone to making "vicious, unprovoked attacks" despite receiving treatment with anti-depressants." Well, being told where to walk, when and if one can walk, when to pee, when to eat... one can become a bit frenzied. Add to this pedegree overbreeding (both human and dogs) and it becomes a bit rough out there.

Hat tip to Malamud on this one. Rumor has it that Randy Malamud is increasingly siding with the animals and will turn on humans once the Revolution is under way.

Other incidents in the Animal Revolution

  • Chuck the groundhog bits NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg's finger. Chuck has redefined groundhog's day. It is about the groundhog, not the humans. Stay out of the animal layer. Interestingly, Chuck lives with his human handler, Doug Swartz. He was wild and orphaned and was taken in by the Staten Island Zoo. "Chuck has free range of the house and uses a litter box. But you know, groundhogs are very aggressive."
  • "Hit birds. We lost thrust in both engines." US Airways Flight 1549 struck by a flock of large birds (type yet to be determined). As humans, we're happy for the survival of the passengers and crew. But what happened to the birds? I've yet to see a funeral for them. My suspicion is the birds knowingly attacked the plane in order to assert their airspace over NYC. [Update: birds where Canadian Geese. Yet to be determined if they were the migratory sort or were local. If migratory, imagine the international wars involved here. NY Times says they are tracking birds by putting backpacks on them.]
  • Randy Malamud has a forthcoming essay "Americans do weird things with animals or why did the chicken cross the road?" in Animal Encounters. His premise is "it is morally, intellectually, and ecologically preferable not to do weird things with animals. By 'weird,' I mean contra natura; silly; irrational; counterproductive or retrograde, in terms of envisioning a relationship that people could have with animals that would be more fulfilling and better suited to our role as one speices among many in a complex and vast ecology" (75). Malamud lists things we do to animals. Among the list are Sigfried and Roy's 58 White Tigers of Navada. In October 2003, one of the tigers--named Montecore--"lunged at Roy Horn during the show and dragged him offstage. The tiger wrapped his raw around Roy's neck, making cuts that croshed his trachea as well as deep puncture wounds on the back of his head" (87-88). The notion that "Roy had it coming" was not very commonly held.
  • Hippo eats dwarf. Okay, this is an internet hoax story, but is recalls what Malamud says--"A mauling, or at least the possibility of a mauling, is the subtext of every carnival show" (88).
My thanks to Randy Malamud for the conversation that listed out these above incidents.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stupidit. Derrida on Deleuze and animals

My chapter from On the Surface about Marcus Coates explores the issue of stupidity and a way of thinking outside the discourse and tyranny of reason. Since then, I've happened upon some other works on stupidity worth considering. Stay tuned for updates.
  • Avital Ronell Stupidity
  • Derrida on Deleuze and becoming animal and stupidity: "The Transcendental 'Stupidity' ('Betise') of Man and the Becoming-Animal According to Deleuze" in Derrida, Deleuze, Psychoanalysis. The Derrida essay is a print version from a conference. A video clip of his paper is online.
The animal revolution is stupid, bete. It cannot appeal to reason--all too human reason--since it is reason that has kept the animal at bay, has kept the animal at arms length (denying an animal call to arms). Reason keeps the animal at the margins. The blunt instrument of stupidity is a hammer against the walled hermenutic circle of reason and sensibility. The animal revolution is unsensible.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Signs of the Animal Revolution

Thanks to Bryndis Sneabjornsdottir who pointed me to this:
There is a Dutch political party for animals! "Animal interests should no longer continually be subordinated to economic interests." Indeed, there is, as Derrida points out, a "General Economy" beyond the limited economy and circulation of all too human interests.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amy Stein & lines of domestication and wildness

Chris Pair just introduced me to this interesting work by Amy Stein. She photographs the blurry line of biotopes--between human and non-human worlds. The friction here is palpable. World bump against each other and mark and re/mark upon each other.

See her 2008 book Domesticated.
And recent work on taxidermy and skins called Skin Trade.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Haunted and the turn from domesticated to demon

From Susan Stewart's On Longing:
Its otherness speaks to the possessor's capacity for otherness: it is the possessor, not the souvenir, which is ultimately the curiosity. The danger of the souvenir lies in its unfamiliarity, in our difficulty in subjecting it to interpretation. There is always the possibility that the reverie's signification will go out of control here, that the object itself will take charge, awakening some dormant capacity for destruction. This appropriation of reverie by the object forms the basis for certain horror stories: "The Monkey's Paw" ...(148)

It awakes the "dormant capacity" not in the object or animal alone but in the "possessor" who is possessed. Eugene Thacker's work with zombies is an example of human animality possessed.

How could I forget this Nietzche from "Truth and Lies in the Non-Moral [extra-moral] Sense":
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of "world history"—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Can artists work with animals as equals? Interspecies uses artistic strategies to stimulate dialogue about the way we view the relationship between human and non-human animals, in the year of celebrations of Darwin's birth 200 years ago.

Private view 6pm, Friday 23 January 2009
at Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK
70 Oxford Street, M1 5NH
Exhibition open
24 January - 29 March 2009, Tue - Sun

comprises new works by four artists - Nicolas Primat, Kira O'Reilly, Antony Hall and Ruth Maclennan, and existing pieces by Rachel Mayeri, Beatriz Da Costa and Kathy High. All the artists in Interspecies question the one-sided manipulation of non-human life forms for art. They instead try to absorb the animal's point of view as a fundamental part of their work and practice.

Kira O'Reilly presents an action/installed performance featuring herself and a sleeping female pig, Delilah, Falling Asleep With A Pig, taking place at the private view on Friday 23 January, and on Saturday 24 January. The work addresses the ethics of human and non-human animal interaction, acknowledging the implicit ambivalence in the appropriation of animals as a resource. The artist will inhabit a gallery redesigned for the comfort and welfare of a pig. At some point the pig and/or the artist will sleep. Documentation of the event will be shown in the exhibition.

Nicolas Primat is the only artist in the world that specialises in working with monkeys and apes in collaboration with primatologists. He will show video works resulting from his residencies at the Primatology station, CNRS, Marseille, working with baboons, at the Pasteur Institute, Cayenne, Guyana, working with Saimiris (squirrel monkeys) and at the Animal Park of Apenheul, Holland, working with Bonobo apes.

Anthony Hall's work ENKI allows electric fish and humans to commune on the same level, avoiding the use of language as such; instead stimulating a shared empathy through physical connection. The project explores the possibilities of cross species communication and human to fish relationships, in particular the electric fish. Is it possible that a symbiotic relationship between human and electronic fish can be effected through passive and active electronic media?

Ruth Maclennan’s work for Interspecies explores the relationship between a bird of prey and the human being who trains it. Like eagles and falcons, the symbolic life of the hawk exceeds its ‘natural’ life, which is itself encouraged by human intervention—in breeding, nesting and the habitat. This is the latest stage in a project that looks at people, architecture, the city, and landscape, from the perspective of a cyborg ‘hawk-camera’.

Two existing works will also be shown in the touring exhibition: Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema, which casts human actors in the role of non-human primates seeking mates, and Beatriz Da Costa's PigeonBlog which provides an alternative way to participate environmental air pollution data gathering, equipping urban homing pigeons with GPS-enabled electronic air pollution sensing devices.

INTERSPECIES Events at Cornerhouse

Sat 24 January, 2 – 4pm
Artists’ Open Forum
Nicolas Primat, Antony Hall, Ruth Maclennan, Rachel Mayeri and Beatriz da Costa
Join us for this open forum, a unique opportunity to meet the artists and discover more about the ideas behind Interspecies.

Sun 25 January, 4pm
Kira O’Reilly in Conversation
Join performance artist Kira O’Reilly and curator Rob La Frenais, as they discuss Kira’s exhibition piece in relation to her work on sleep and dream research with humans and pigs.

Mon 26 January, 6 - 8pm
Wed 28 January, 2 - 4pm
Workshop: Primate Cinema – How to act like an animal
Participate in a performance workshops led by Interspecies artist Rachel Mayeri, exploring how primates communicate. Through discussion and video clips, learn about animal behaviour in the wild and in cinema and find out about primatology. You will get the chance to engage in physical theatre techniques and learn how to improvise movement and social interactions as non-human primates.

Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5HN
Box office: 0161 200 1500
Opening hours: Tues – Sat: 11.00 – 18.00 Thurs until 20.00
Sun 14.00-18.00


The Arts Catalyst
Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London E1 6LS

The Arts Catalyst commissions art that experimentally and critically engages with science. We bring together people across the art/science divide and beyond to explore science in its wider social, political and cultural contexts. We produce provocative, playful, risk-taking projects to spark dynamic conversations about our changing world.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quotes for the Revolution

Thanks to Erica Fudge's "Left-handed Blow" essay in Representing Animals:
  • [A]ll rulers are heirs of those who conquered before them . . . There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.
    Walter Benjamin, 'Theses on the Philosophy of History,' Illuminations (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1968), 256
  • All decisive blows are struck left-handed.
    Walter Benjamin, 'One Way Street,' Reflections (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978), 65.
Revolution to be revolutionary comes from outside of history, without proper documentary papers, and without invitation. To anyone reading this blog: please contribute quotations you find useful for the revolution.

Too many possible quotations from Nietzsche perhaps, but for now here is one that comes to mind:
  • One skill is needed -- lost today, unfortunately -- for the practice of reading as an art: the skill to ruminate, which cows posses but modern man lacks. This is why my writings will, for some time yet, remain difficult to digest.
    Fredrick Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals, Francis Golffing (trans.), Garden City, New York, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956, p157.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

When good animals go bad (an ongoing story)

I should like to contrast three modes of engagement with animals: appropriation, contact zone, and animal revolution:

1. We know appropriation well and see it often in the state of domesticated animals. We see it too in the way in which we "weigh" upon the earth and cause the extinction of other species or a change in habit and habitat of these species (see Michel Serres Natural Contract regarding "weighing" on the earth and Ursala Heise Sense of Place and Sense of Planet). Looking at Susan Stewart's On Longing and the souvenir she writes: "Such objects allow one to be a tourist of one's own life, or allow the tourist to appropriate, consume, and thereby 'tame' the cultural other" (146). The same could be said of relation to animals by which we appropriate them or become tourists of their worlds.

2. Contact zone. I've written on this in On the Surface using Mary Louise Pratt. Haraway mentions this as well in When Species Meet. The idea here is creating a pidgen language for negotiating umwelts.

3. We see evidence of the animal revolution when "good animals go bad," when the domestic bites the (Heideggarian) hand that feeds it and when the friction of the animal world does not allow for appropriation. The revolution creates noise such that the pidgen language is jammed and translation fails.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

UK Animal Art + Symposium

The Animal Gaze exhibition graciously put together by Rosemarie McGoldrick is now touring. The next round of art (and art workshops) and symposium will be in 2010.

Animals and Art events

Some contemporary Animal Art events:

Why Look at Animals?
Monday, 19 January / 7 PM / The Power Plant

"Artists and scholars discuss the figure of the animal in contemporary art, culture and politics, with an eye towards forging a creaturely community that crosses species. Syracuse-based Canadian artist duo Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby’s new video Beauty Plus Pity, currently showing at The Power Plant, explores perverse emotional, ethical and existential relationships among adults, children and animals. Matthew Brower is the curator of the University of Toronto Art Centre and an art historian focusing on animals in visual culture. Bill Burns is an acclaimed Toronto-based artist responsible for the Safety Gear for Small Animals project. Moderator Jon Davies is Assistant Curator of Public Programs at The Power Plant and a critic interested in the cultural representation of animals."

[Looks to be a really fine show! On a side note: I've an aversion to the primacy of the visual and the gaze and the 'why look' which keeps animals at a (visual) distance and does not risk our own personhood... or if it 'risks' it does so only by bringing the animal within the social/cultural/psychological discourse of The Gaze with all the language ramifications (Lacan, Freud, and even Merleau-Ponty) associated with this visual/conceptual configuration.]

Also the wonderfully titled posthuman: "Trying to Cope with Things that Aren't Human"

Specters for the animals

Quentin Meillassoux's essay "Spectral Dilemma" in Collapse Volume IV: Concept Horror provides the following insightful summary of the problem of the specter:
What is a spectre? A dead person who has not been properly mourned, who haunts us, bothers us, refusing to pass over to the 'other side,' where the dearly-departed can accompany us at a distance sufficient for us to live our own lives without forgetting them, but also without dying their death--without being the prisoner of the repetition of their final moments. Then what is a spectre become the essesne of the spectre, the spectre par excellence? A dead person whose death is such that we cannot mourn them. That is to say: a dead person for whom the work of mourning, the passage of time, proves inadequeate for a tranquil bond between them and the living to be envisaged. A dead person the horror of whose death lays heavy not only upon the nearest and dearest, but upon all those who cross the path of their history." (261-62)
Meillassoux is talking about human persons (with all the social resonances of the construction of personhood, Agamben and bare life, Levinas and face). But what if such haunting could be extended to animals? What is the specter of the animal?

Here an inquiry through Derrida's Specters of Marx (particularly ch. 1) should be taken up (in a later post). The issue of 'to come' arises. The horror of the animal death through human enframing... a horror that haunts not only the animals but also the animality of humans, calls out for a revolution which already exists as a 'to come' and perhaps in a messianic without a messiah will manifest in the 'future's future'. All these terms--to come, messianic without a messiah, and future's future to be worked through in future posts.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

commando sheep

Sheep the Pennines UK have learned how to roll over the cattle grid barrier to get to greener pastures.
"sheep have perfected their version of the commando roll"
Guardian Fri. 30 July 2004
Jul 27 2004 The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

incidents in the animal revolution

I am interested in collecting curious incidents in which the animality of animals creates a friction with human worlding. Also, I am interested in collecting incidents (like the one below) where the animality of the animal is co-opted by humans to serve not human cultural ends but to serve human animality (as, for example in animal experimentation where the animal is a stand-in for the human).

Animal Parachute:
"In 1785 Blanchard carried out the first successful parachute experiment. He placed a small animal in a small basket attached to a parachute. This was then dropped from a air balloon and the descent was so slow that the animal survived the fall." (source)

Might the animals use this techne for their own revolution?