Art for animals
Art for animals is art with animals intended as its key users or audience. Art for animals is not therefore art that uses animals as a substrate or a carrier, nor as an object of contemplation or use
Notable examples would be Jannis Kounellis’ installation, Horses, Rome, 1969, in which a dozen horses were stabled in the Galleria L’ Attico, setting up a situation in which the physical presence, movement, smell and palpability of the horses goes straight to matter conjugated by the multiple kinds of expectation and viewing accentuated in art systems.
Evolution by natural selection is often characterized as a process of the survival of the most fit. ‘Fitness’ is a relative, and distinctly processual, term. A whale is fit for its habitat, but, as the current representative of a mamma- lian lineage that re-entered the water, it is also the result of massive and quite possibly awkward adaptational change (Zimmer 1998). It cannot be under- stood to be perfectly fit, but rather as the ongoing result of many interlocking morphogenetic, material and adaptive capacities that may involve substan- tial shifts in the use or function of bodily elements.
Communication amongst humans is increasingly configured as a means of the delivery of order words and the management of the distribution of micro- compulsions to respond, advise, participate, collaborate and to organize attention.
Marcus Coates has embarked on a body of work that maps out a certain set of figurations of interactions with animals, with birds in particular. Only a few pieces of his work fall into the art for animals current, and are early, perhaps more minor, more throwaway or institutionally undetermined than the larger-scale projects he has more recently embarked on. They may indeed be pointing towards something to which, given his continued interest in ‘animal becoming’ he will return. Before addressing these, some of the other works are also worth mentioning. In a second work entitled Dawn Chorus (2007), high-quality field recordings of bird songs are slowed down sixteen times until they reach a pitch easily matched by a human throat. The resulting sounds are played to volunteers who learn to repeat them. These enactments are videoed, and then played back as a projection. It seems that, at least in terms of their re-enaction, only the relative size of the vocal apparatus distinguishes the calls of the birds and humans.
Extreme doubt must be applied to any project that involves confinement, and especially confinement with such negative conse- quences. And here the question of the conjunctive-form ethico-aesthetics proposed by Guattari is useful to draw upon. The Three Ecologies emphasizes processes of subjectification that are artistic in style and inspiration, in imagi- nal power, rather than being quasi-scientific. Ethics does not consist of the completion of a series of tick boxes of an approvals committee. More funda- mentally, to make of the fish an instrument, even one whose cognitive and communicational processes ‘complete’ the work, is to curse it. Art for animals proposes instead that animals have a necessarily ontological world-making dimension. As such, an ethico-aesthetic approach disrupts the normal great chain of thought, which starts with ontology, proceeds through epistemol- ogy and ends with the mere implementation details of ethics and aesthetics. It suggests that each moment of each scalar state is riven through with such figurations and modes, without any gaining an a priori superiority or prece- dence to the others.
Whether it is paint, wood, chrome, text, scent, movement, sound, leaf, artworks with and through materials that are direct to hand, to thought or to experience, but which also anticipate their coming into composition, their recomposition, with, or by means of, other elements, art may require work from primary natural forces in order to become complete. Think of Edward Munch’s habit of leaving his oil-painted canvases out in the rain for weeks in order that they might be worked upon by it. It may be suspected that some- thing of the same happens in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari, some- thing that brings it closer in practice both to art and that allows it to produce itself as a receptive domain in which ecologies of texts, histories and ideas, occur, spawn and leave their traces. This is philosophy that leaves itself out in too many weathers. In doing so, they form new relays with ecologies.