Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Animals in Graphic Novels

Posted by lisagbrown on October 19, 2009

If you’re wondering why Animal Inventory is a little slow these days, let me assure that it’s for good reason. I’m hard at work on lots of exciting projects, and I’d like to share one of them with you: I’m guest-editing the June 2010 issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. The theme of the issue puts my favorite topic in the context of one of my favorite artistic mediums: animals in graphic novels.

buddhacoverCover art from Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha

Here in Boston we just had our first snow, so it may seem odd to busy myself with something that’s debuting in June. Yet, for those of us who are working on the issue, June is right around the corner! If you or someone you know may be interested in contributing to this issue, please take a look at the call for papers below.

Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture (www.antennae.org.uk) is seeking submission for its June 2010 issue devoted to the subject of “animals in graphic novels.”

The issue will primarily focus on papers that examine contemporary graphic novels; examples of these might include Pride of Baghdad (Brian K. Vaughan), First in Space (James Vining), the works of Osamu Tezuka, Animal Man (Grant Morrison), Rabbi’s Cat (Joann Sfar), Fables (Bill Willingham), and Maus (Art Spiegelman), among others. Papers that examine the subjects of comics for children and comic strips that appear in newspapers may also be considered, depending on the originality of the contextualisation through which they may be presented.

We are looking at gathering a wide range of perspectives, themes and ideas within the broad scope of “animals in graphic novels.” These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

– Exploring animality in the graphic novel medium
– Representing the human/animal divide
– Positive and negative aspects of anthropomorphism
– Becoming animal
– Links between sexism, racism and speciesism
– Non-western graphic novels
– The challenges of animal first-person narratives
– Ecocriticism and nature in graphic novels

As per usual Antennae is open to consideration of academic essays as well as fiction and experimental writing. Submission of abstracts and proposals is 1st of December 2009. Final deadline for submissions is 1st of March 2010. For any questions please contact Giovanni Aloi and Lisa Brown (Guest Editor of the Animals in Graphic Novels Issue) at antennaeproject@gmail.com

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Posted in Animals, Art, Comics, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »

Antennae, Issue 11: Insecta

Posted by lisagbrown on September 27, 2009

The newest issue of Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture is now available for download. The theme of the issue is insects — namely, our uncomfortable relationship with them and how we can come to see beauty in creepy crawlies. The issue was inspired by Pestival, a week-long festival in London celebrating insects. As Giovanni Aloi, editor-in-chief of Antennae, says:

…this issue of Antennae looks at some of the most challenging and interesting contemporary artists working with insects. The “excuse” for ‘Insecta’ to be released right now is Pestival 2009, “A festival celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect” which took place at London’s Southbank Centre this September. Pestival’s aim is to examine insect-human interactivity in bioscience through paradigms of contemporary art, cinema, music and comedy as well as through direct scientific demonstration and educational projects.

Antennae Issue 11

Click on the image above to be redirected to the Antennae homepage.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Music, Photography, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »

Animals on the Internet

Posted by lisagbrown on August 27, 2009

ostrich

Animals are everywhere on the internet, and it seems that every day there are more and more viral stories, videos and photos about animals! In order to accomodate the rapid influx of news and links, I’ve started a Facebook page where I can quickly post these items when I don’t have time to write a blog entry. Here’s a sampling of what you’ve been missing, if you’re not a fan of Animal Inventory on Facebook!

  • Monkey Herds Goats; Farmer Approves: An amazing National Geographic video of a monkey in India that herds goats! She has received no training, and does it on a completely voluntary basis — she was set free by the people who tended to some wounds she had gotten in the wild, but has chosen to stay with them and herd their goats!
  • Green Porno: Isabella Rossellini and Sundance channel team up to create very short films about the reproductive habits of marine animals. GREEN PORNO is scientifically accurate yet extremely entertaining.
  • Chimp Outtakes: Adorable outtakes from footage shot by the Jane Goodall Institute of the chimps in Gombi.
  • Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me: The NPR news quiz show hosts an episode that’s all about animals!

And there’s so much more! Articles about: a giraffe and an ostrich that are best friends, how Barry White might help sharks mate, an elephant and a dolphin getting prosthetic limbs. Introductions to cool artists who are inspired by animals, like Jen Mastre’s pencil sea urchin sculptures.  Plus I’ve begun highlighting the animal-related work of Animal Inventory’s fans themselves, an astonishingly talented and prolific group of people: for example, the comics of Nick Abadzis, the artwork of Jessica Joslin, the writing of Leslie Irvine.

There’s much more to come. Don’t miss out on your daily dose of Animal Inventory on Facebook!

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Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Comics, Conservation, Film, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Primates, Public Policy, Representations | Leave a Comment »

Japan’s Dolphin Massacre: The Cove in Taiji

Posted by lisagbrown on August 7, 2009

cove-poster-0

Dolphins have been massacred by the thousands in the town of Taiji, Japan, but until now, not many people knew about it. Thanks to the dedicated team behind the new movie, The Cove, the cruel, ongoing practice of dolphin slaughtering has been exposed. The horrifying truth is that most people in Japan don’t even know this is happening in their own country and — even worse — they don’t know that some of the fish they eat is dolphin meat. They are purposefully being deceived in order to sustain a lucrative and dishonest industry that provides “show” dolphins to aquariums and “swim-with-dolphins” programs worldwide.

As the film opens, director Louis Psihoyos explains, “we tried to do this film legally.” With this one line, Psihoyos sets up the espionage, intrigue and drama of a film that has Hitchcock-worthy, rapid-fire pacing. The Cove stands as a meticulous documentary whose important contribution to animal welfare is only outshone by its contribution to the medium of guerrilla-style documentary film-making. This is storytelling at its most profound, where structure and content intertwine seamlessly to create a narrative that is as exciting as it is informative.

The Cove traces the story of Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the 1960’s television show Flipper, who feels responsible for contributing to the captivity of dolphins. During brief interludes, O’Barry shares his profound attachment to Kathy, one of the dolphins who played Flipper. She brought him to a greater understanding of why these beings ought not to be in captivity. O’Barry’s perspective is integrated with information from scientists, divers and others who share personal and professional knowledge, creating a holistic portrait of dolphins as sentient, self-aware beings whose suffering is unjustifiable.

As is the case with most thrillers, there are good guys and bad guys, corrupt government schemers, and a genuine danger of being caught. All these pieces provide the framework, but the dolphins and their plight remain at the heart of every wrenching scene, giving the drama a pulsating urgency that fictional thrillers lack.

I’ve heard that some people are fearful of seeing the film because they think they won’t be able to handle the upsetting nature of its content. I hope to dissuade people of this fear. It’s true that there are things that happen in this movie that are incredibly sad to see and even worse to think about, but it would be such a disservice to yourself — and the dophins — if you allow this fear to overtake you. This film won’t destroy you. It doesn’t show you anything you can’t handle. But it will provoke attention and outrage, and it will very likely incite you to take action. In the same way that Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth inspired moviegoers to go beyond the passive experience of movies — and participate in the experience long after the film has ended — The Cove will inspire everyday people to champion on behalf of the dolphins.

What is happening in Taiji deserves scrutiny. It warrants our attention. And it needs to end.

To take action, visit www.takepart.com/thecove

To find a screening in your city, visit The Cove‘s website

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Dolphins performing in Taiji.                                                                                      The filmmakers with two covert filming tools.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Conservation, Ethics, Film, Fish, Food Animals, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Public Policy, Representations | 1 Comment »

An Inventory of Animal Inventory

Posted by lisagbrown on August 1, 2009

This entry marks the 100th posting since the start of Animal Inventory. And, with appropriate synchronicity, this 100th entry also marks — nearly to the day — the two-year anniversary of Animal Inventory’s very first post (August 5, 2007).

When I first started Animal Inventory, my audience was mostly family and friends. I averaged about 20 hits per month. Yet over the past two short years, Animal Inventory’s readership has grown at an amazing rate. Last July 2008 (one year after its inception) Animal Inventory had 700 readers that month. To mark Animal Inventory’s first anniversary I, along with local producer Hannah Pillemer, launched Animal Inventory TV, a Web show that honors the unique relationships between people and animals. The show (currently on hiatus) has had a viewership thus far of nearly 6000 views for the three inaugural episodes.

But nothing could have prepared me for the rapid growth over the last year. Readership has continued to increase steadily with each passing month and for July 2009 ALONE, Animal Inventory had more than 4800 visitors. That’s a 650% increase since July 2008’s 700 visitors! What’s more, many readers take the time to explore the blog, clicking on past postings, the recommended list, and my bio. On the average day, Animal Inventory receives between 150-250 visitors, an average that rises when a new post goes up. In addition to visitors from every corner of the United States, the blog has had visitors from England, Austria, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Slovakia, Vietnam, Canada, Norway, Belgium, France, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, Hungary and Brazil — and this list represents today, August 1st, alone! Over the course of the last two years, visitors have come from too many countries to name, and have requested translations from Google Translate in many different languages.

I am sharing this information with you simply because I am astonished — and so pleased — with the growth of Animal Inventory. I started this blog with very simple and humble expectations — namely, to organize my thoughts about the subject of animals in popular culture. I hoped that some animal studies scholars and general animal lovers might read it on occasion, but I never could have anticipated the loyalty of my readers, the professional friendships that would arise as a result of the blog, and the positive feedback I would get from varying animal-related communities and individual animal lovers.

Forthcoming…

Animal Inventory continues to be one of my most fulfilling projects. I’ve got a few plans for the future to keep the site and it’s contents fresh and informative. Here are just a few:

  • I’m currently seeking a designer to help create a unique and identifiable logo that matches the theme of the blog. If you or someone you know might be interested, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
  • Relatedly, I’m considering doing a website redesign to make the blog a bit sleeker, more user-friendly, and more up-to-date.
  • I’m thinking about publishing a collection of Animal Inventory’s most popular entries in book format.

And finally, I have just launched Animal Inventory’s Facebook page. This page will enable me to post links to artists, news and content that may be of interest to Animal Inventory readers — even when I don’t have time to write a full blog posting. This will bring all the best of animals in pop culture — right to your Facebook news feed. Plus, you’ll be the first to know when there’s a new posting on the blog. Simply click the link below and click “become a fan” to start receiving Animal Inventory updates:

facebook-logo

And, as always, thank you so very much for reading Animal Inventory.

Posted in Animals, Art, Human-Animal Studies, Representations | 3 Comments »

What about Michael Jackson’s Chimp, Bubbles?

Posted by lisagbrown on June 29, 2009

bubblesI guess I imagined that Michael Jackson’s chimp Bubbles still lived at the Neverland Ranch, that he was a member of MJ’s menagerie, or maybe that he had an enclosure in the King of Pop’s house.  To be honest, I never gave the matter much thought until Michael Jackson died last week and I found myself thinking, what about Bubbles?

It could be said that Jackson’s purchase of Bubbles (at age 3) in 1985 marked the beginning of Jackson’s decline into increasingly eccentric behavior. Bubbles made appearances in Jackson’s videos; he was present in the recording studio as Jackson recorded his album Bad; he even accompanied Jackson on a tour of Japan and they reportedly shared a hotel room.

By Jackson’s own account, he gave up Bubbles when his son was born, fearing that the chimp may become aggressive. But the real story is less clear. Some people report that there were many young “Bubbles'” over the years, or at the very least, there were a number of different apes that lived with Jackson. According to reliable sources, the reality is that the original Bubbles actually lived for most of his life with a trainer in California. And what is clear, is that in 2005 Bubbles was moved to the Center for Great Apes sanctuary, where he currently resides.

Last week I posted an interview with Charles Siebert whose book, The Wauchula Woods Accord, chronicles the sad lives of former entertainment chimps living in America. Siebert’s chimp friend Roger lives at the same sanctuary that Bubbles does, along with more than 40 other apes. To describe the story of Bubbles is to rehash the same heartbreaking tale that has been recounted again and again and again. Adorable baby chimps are purchased by the rich and put to work as actors and entertainers. They become adult chimps very quickly who are too strong to be around humans, and are then forced to spend the rest of their 50-55 years behind bars. I can’t help but wonder what will cause these stories to change.

The photo above shows a very young Bubbles with Michael Jackson in the mid 80’s. The photo below is by Joe Zammit-Lucia (whose work I highlighted in a blog entry a few weeks ago), and shows Bubbles as he is today. Joe is offering fine archival prints of the photo for purchase, and proceeds from the sales will go directly to The Center for Great Apes, where Bubbles lives. If you are interested in purchasing a print, click here to go to Joe’s web site. Alternatively, you can make donations directly at the sanctuary’s web site. To take care of all of their apes, it costs the sanctuary $16,000 per year, per chimp ($43 per day, per chimp).  

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“Bubbles” by Joe Zammit-Lucia

To learn more about The Center for Great Apes, please click here.

To specifically learn more about Bubbles, click here.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Ethics, Human-Animal Bond, Photography, Primates, Representations, Television | 1 Comment »

Antennae, Issue 10

Posted by lisagbrown on June 21, 2009

Please visit Antennae‘s website to download (for free!!) the newest issue of the ever-wonderful Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture. The theme of the issue is heat. As Giovanni Aloi, the journal’s editor-in-chief, explains:

This issue of Antennae is fully dedicated to climate change. “Heat” pieces together a selection of artists’ responses to climate changes as experienced in different geographical, social and cultural realities. In doing so, we have tried to evenly divide our attention through a range of issues related to and departing from global warming.

Also, towards the end of the issue, please check out my interview with Geralyn Pezanoski, the director of MINE, an incredible documentary about the fate of companion animals during hurricane Katrina.

Antennae Issue 10

Posted in Amphibians, Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Conservation, Dogs, Ethics, Extinction, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Literature, Photography, Public Policy, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »

The Photography of Joe Zammit-Lucia

Posted by lisagbrown on June 2, 2009

“Portraits celebrating the animal as individual, not as mere specimen of species…”

 Photos and text by Joe Zammit-Lucia

 

ZammitLucia-Joe_Resignation

“Resignation”

“In the world of animal portraiture I would like to explore the narrow space between the animal as an object … and the animal as human property or as anthropomorphized or aesthetic object. A space where the conversation is about mutual respect between the subject and the viewer.”

  

Hunted

 “Hunted”

“Some scholars see wildlife photography as the modern equivalent of Victorian big game hunting and the colonial attitudes that went with it. We ‘shoot’ and ‘capture’ animals and display the resulting images as trophies — the proud acheivement of an intrepid photographer ‘hunting with the camera.'”

 

ZammitLucia-Joe_Pride 

 “Pride”

“In some wildlife images, the animal, while visible to the eye, may not be visible to the mind. It is objectified or hidden in the blaze of color or the abstract pattern or the species behavior or the romanticized magnificence of Nature that is the true subject of the image.”

 

poise

“Poise”

“The use of the collective [term] ‘wildlife’ leads us to view animals not as individuals but rather as specimens of species.”

 

For more information on the work of Joe Zammit-Lucia, click here to visit his website.

 

All text and images are by Joe Zammit-Lucia. Text is from the artist’s statement. The artist donates all profits from his photography to environmental causes.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Conservation, Ethics, Human-Animal Studies, Photography, Primates, Representations, Theory | Leave a Comment »

Mine: Taken By Katrina

Posted by lisagbrown on April 19, 2009

n46819729090_171Mine: Taken By Katrina, is a new documentary by filmmaker Geralyn Pezanoski, about the effects of hurricane Katrina on human-animal relationships. The film follows a number of individuals who try to reunite with their animals after the natural disaster, and the tragic conflicts between people who have newly adopted the lost animals, and the original families who were separated from them.

Ever since hurricane Katrina occurred, the animal studies community has been teaching about the impact the disaster had on the way Americans think about relationships with companion animals, the intersections between race, class, and human and animal welfare, and also the way the government deals with animals during a natural disaster. This film is a way to bring this message to a broader audience, and has the potential to completely transform the way Americans understand the complicated, essential bonds between humans and animals.

Mine is already receiving attention and accolades, having won the audience award for best documentary at SXSW 2009. The film is showing on Saturday, April 25th and Sunday, April 26th at the Independent Film Festival Boston. (For tickets, go to IFFBoston.) For more information, visit Mine: Taken By Katrina, and watch the incredibly powerful trailer below.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Cats, Dogs, Ethics, Film, Human-Animal Bond, Human-Animal Studies, Public Policy, Representations, Television | 2 Comments »

Art Ltd.’s Eco-themed Issue

Posted by lisagbrown on April 7, 2009

bird_greenneedleThe March/April 2009 issue of Art Ltd. is all about art that comments on environmental issues. While the whole magazine is a wonderful exploration of contemporary eco-art, of particular interest to me was the cover story about mutant animals. These pieces explore the ways that human relationships with animals (wild animals,in particular), can be confused, irresponsible, and at times adversarial. As editor in chief George Melrod says in his article,

Whether examining genetic modification or the commodification of the environment, whether investigating the unintended consequences of technology or the subtle power struggles implicit in interpersonal relationships, we can always set forth animals to make our case for us, calling them to the stand like so many injured furred-or-feathered witnesses for the prosecution. That these creatures don’t always understand their own malformity or plight only makes their tales more arresting, their situation all the more poignant. In some cases, these hybrids seem perfectly at ease with their eccentric anatomy. Often, however, their defects or dislocations do not seem to their benefit; rather these alterations seem detrimental, capricious, parasitic, imposed on them, or just plain wrong. In their disfigurement or displacement, these creatures do not seem like happy travelers on the Darwinian flow chart toward biological adaptation and collective self-betterment; rather they seem to be the result of a more malignant, distinctly unnatural selection.

Read the entire article at Art Ltd. or pick up the issue at your local bookstore.

(Above: Misako Inaoka, Green-pin Bird, 2006)

Posted in Animals, Art, Conservation, Human-Animal Studies, Photography, Representations, Theory | 1 Comment »