(via colorful pigeons amongst a flock of grey at the venice biennale)
Artists messing with animals – it seems like a never ending theme. The commentary in this blog post is worth browsing through. Julian Charriere and Julius von Bismarck have died pigeons in Venice so that people don’t consider them flying rats anymore…
The blog post notes they’ve painted these animals without harming them. Some of the commenters say painting these animals is harmful in itself. Reasons given include: camouflage and procreation. Other commenters are offended by artists seeking fame by exploiting these animals. I find the image striking and would like to learn more about the actual process the artists uses to achieve this effect. I’m also curious about the scientific basis for some of the claims made by those commenters taking offense.
(via BBC News — Fish play video game in new behaviour study)
Not an actual game but a simulation — nonetheless interesting. Scientist study predatory behavior in fish using computer-controlled colored dots. They use the word “immersive”. I wonder if the pun was intended.
Another SAKE reference point — National Novel Writing Month is an annual writing challenge. It isn’t about the quality of the writing, it’s simply about getting to 50.000 words in 30 days. I guess a large part of the fun comes from the knowledge that many others are doing the same thing as you are.
Prior art for Pig Chase that I was reminded of yesterday during Kevin Slavin’s talk at Playpublik. In Sharkrunners, human players try to intercept sharks with a digital boat. The digital sharks are controlled by GPS-tagged live sharks.
(via blog: A Friend in Need)
The previously blogged Vengeful Tiger, Glowing Rabbit post lead me to this painting. Pulling this from a blog where it is accompanied by the following reflections:
Most of them appear to have their own separate personailities. The one on the far left is a chuckling son of a bitch(literally), he’s just there to have a good time and pretend he’s people, then we go into the more serious players like the one in the middle. He’s not there to fuck around, he wants your dog money so he can go and gamble it away on the people races. That’s what dogs would do in this parallel universe, right?
The writer of Vengeful Tiger… has a different perspective:
Cassius Coolidge’s famous painting of dogs playing poker, “A Friend in Need” (circa 1903 and still going strong), typifies the retrograde consciousness that a more enlightened cultural public will, perhaps, someday transcend.
Coolidge’s weird image has been reproduced endlessly in cigar ads, on calendars, on throw rugs, and in velvet. Dogs cannot sit on chairs around a card table in the way that Coolidge depicts; they would not want to. But Coolidge has made them.
The punch line of this painting, and the ethical harm of it, is the disjunction between what is depicted and our realization that dogs do not smoke cigars or gamble. Dumb dogs. But we have made them do so. Clever us. It reminds me of the Web site that suggests that if a cat could talk, what she would say is, “I can has cheezburger?” (LOL!) Coolidge reifies the fantasy that ours is the best of all possible worlds, and that other species could do no better than to emulate humans, however ridiculous they might seem in so doing, and however foreign our humanity may be to their animality.
I would be less offended by Coolidge if he, or other artists, also created art that involved human animals in the guise and context of nonhuman animals (and did so without casting aspersion on the “swinish,” “beastly” humans so represented)—that is, if there were a reciprocity that bespoke a sincere desire to broach the species barrier and see how the other half lives. But that wouldn’t sell many cigars.
My perspective? I’m not taken in by the painting. It does, however, remind me of this observation in Ecce Canis:
…the dog was often taken as the ideal test subject not just because of the relative similarity of its internal anatomy to ours, but also because its expressions of pain or displeasure are for us so easy to read and understand.
Which is to say: painterly experimentation on dogs like this works, because a naturalistic rendering of canine faces still allows us to interpret the intended character.
Two interesting episodes in Adams’ classic scifi comedy. The first, involving a sentient cow-like animal offering parts of its own body for dinner in a restaurant:
A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips. “Good evening,” it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, “I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?” It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them.
“You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?” whispered Trillian to Ford. “Me?” said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes. “I don’t mean anything.” “That’s absolutely horrible,” exclaimed Arthur, “the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard.” “What’s the problem, Earthman?” said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal’s enormous rump. “I just don’t want to eat an animal that’s standing there inviting me to,” said Arthur. “It’s heartless.” “Better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten,” said Zaphod. “That’s not the point,” Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. “All right,” he said, “maybe it is the point. I don’t care, I’m not going to think about it now. I’ll just … er …”
“Look,” said Zaphod, “we want to eat, we don’t want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare steaks please, and hurry. We haven’t eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years.” The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. “A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,” it said. “I’ll just nip off and shoot myself.” He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. “Don’t worry, sir,” he said, “I’ll be very humane.” It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.
The second, towards the end of the last book, involves liberating zoo animals, foie gras and ethical laziness:
They checked into a large two-bedroom suite at the Langham. Mysteriously, Ford’s Dine-O-Charge card, issued on a planet over five thousand light years away, seemed to present the hotel’s computer with no problems. Ford hit the phones straight away while Arthur attempted to locate the television. “Okay,” said Ford. “I want to order up some margaritas, please. Couple of pitchers. Couple of chef’s salads. And as much foie gras as you’ve got. And also London Zoo.
“That’s what I said,” said Ford into the phone. “London Zoo. Just charge it to the room.
“Are you having difficulty understanding the English language?” continued Ford. “It’s the zoo just up the road from here. I don’t care if it’s closed this evening. I don’t want to buy a ticket, I just want to buy the zoo. I don’t care if you’re busy. This is room service, I’m in a room and I want some service. Got a piece of paper? Okay. Here’s what I want you to do. All the animals that can be safely returned to the wild, return them. Set up some good teams of people to monitor their progress in the wild, see that they’re doing okay.”
“Just a second,” Ford shouted, and returned to his negotiations with room service. “Then we’ll need some natural reserves for the animals that can’t hack it in the wild,” he said. “Set up a team to work out the best places to do that. We might need to buy somewhere like Zaire and maybe some islands. Madagascar. Baffin. Sumatra. Those kind of places. We’ll need a wide variety of habitats. Look, I don’t see why you’re seeing this as a problem. Learn to delegate. Hire whoever you want. Get onto it. I think you’ll find my credit is good. And blue cheese dressing on the salad. Thank you.” He put the phone down and went through to Arthur, who was sitting on the edge of his bed watching television.
“I ordered us some foie gras,” said Ford. “What?” said Arthur, whose attention was entirely focused on the television. “I said I ordered us some foie gras.” “Oh,” said Arthur, vaguely. “Um, I always feel a bit bad about foie gras. Bit cruel to the geese, isn’t it?” “Fuck ’em,” said Ford, slumping on the bed. “You can’t care about every damn thing.”
“Well, that’s all very well for you to say, but—” “Drop it!” said Ford. “If you don’t like it I’ll have yours.