From the behavioral science of dancers, Rachel Mayeri directed our attention to primatology and, well, how our anthropocentric identification with primates can lay bare and ridicule our social habits.Her Primate Cinema was hilarious and somehow sad to watch, as the split screen– one side showing scenes of animal sociality and courtship among baboons, the other showing romantic flirting between men and a woman at a bar–made the projection of our social norms onto primates crystalline clear.
Mayeri’s split screen films made our social norms ridiculous and contrived as the primitive looking gestures of baboons and chimpanzees “acted” for us and increasingly became us.
This made Primate Cinema a brilliant satire and a great sociological study not only of human behaviors and stereotypes, but also of human’s perception of primates.
…and keeping up with our interest in animals, Marguerite Humeau‘s monumental attempt to resurrect the voices of prehistoric animals speaks to humans’ spirit of preservation and recuperation, but also to an interest for yet another unseen aspect emerging from the alliance of art and science: the drive of scientific paleontological and archaeological research to evoke the past. of course, Humeau is interested in recuperating a particular aspect of this past: the sound that these animals emitted. Thus, her project focuses on the study of rare fragments and skulls of mammoth and whales (likely to be found fused with Siberian permafrost ) which she juxtaposes to MRI scans of skulls and the larynx’s areas of current successors of those prehistoric animals.
the meticulous process of identifying the organs that allowed the prehistoric creature to emit sound, and the successive recreation of this organ thanks to modeling and big scale 3D printing.
I asked Humeau why she chose such big prehistoric animals and such monumental scale. she admitted that the choice was dictated by a need to create a more immersive and evocative experience: once completed, the larynx cavity /vocal chords areas of these animals are hung off the ceiling and resonate with majestic beauty.
asked about the type of collaboration engaged with scientists, Humeau replied that her work didn’t seek any collaboration. rather, she would seek the help of scientists willing to share some expert advise and recommendations. Her quest is not about finding some kind of hidden truth, as truth, when it comes to this sort of extinct animals is not really possible. neither is it about merging different fields, but simply acquiring the necessary skills to produce a conceptual design. see an interesting interview about this elegant work