Animals in the Room (2010-11)
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Animals in the Room captures a momentary glimpse of my relationship with Sushi. We perform together, play together, love each other, antagonize each other: we are companions and co-dependants.
In my everyday relationship with Sushi, I believe we love each other. I project my feelings onto her, I care for her, and I understand that she reciprocates this affection. In our performances, I position our relationship as transcendental. We communicate through our learned language and experience, a mixture of read body language and signs, verbal communication (in that I observe that Sushi responds to my voice), and intuitive transmission of affect. Animals in the Room is a dual projection: one, by the process of reading Sushi’s emotion and experience, and two, by interpreting this observation through my own filtered authorship, subjectivity and constructed frameworks. This leads me to suggest that our relationship is deliberately elusive, ambiguous, and confounding due to my implicit projection of intention and human language. My aim in the artwork is to emphasize awareness and communication across the species divide.
In When Species Meet (2008), Donna Haraway begins with the question “how is ‘becoming with’ a practice of becoming worldly?” (3). “Becoming with” is the meeting of humans and animals and the resultant reaction on a physical, emotional and phenomenal level. This experience of “becoming with” points to a shift in the way we, as humans, can understand our own humanness – or, meaning that each connection with an animal results in a shift in the biological and phenomenal make-up of our species.
Much of what we understand about human communication with animals relies on projection and hopefulness, a human need to connect to another being. Animals in the Room therefore contributes to a questioning of this connection (and this need) that we feel towards animals in spite of the limitations of our species, in spite of rationality and scientific knowledge. It is impossible to know animals, much less ourselves or other humans – and yet that is the very inspiration to “be with”: to “be with” is to know.
Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.