For the second time this week, I ended up on my back in a dark room alongside a bunch of strangers doing the same. This time, it was one part of the exhibition Le Grand orchestre des animaux at the Fondation Cartier. The crux of the exhibition was thus this largely dark room, an echo chamber for the animal sound recordings of Bernie Krause, what he calls biophony (“the creature chorus of natural sound”). The experience is pretty damn gripping. In addition to the sound, there are visuals that materialize that sound in another form. The left wall is a kind of giant oscilloscope marking in long bars and real time the frequencies of different animals in the recording (each recording belongs to a different location); the front and right walls are an EKG-like recording instrument that keeps a trace of what the left wall measures. You’re surrounded in animal sound as sound, as flickering frequency bars, and as a ticker-tape-life recording that wraps around. The animals here are the active agents. As they come and go, they leave a sonic footprint on the walls, which both serves to identify them, but in a more direct way than through sight. You can hear many animals at once, and yet still hear them all individually at the same time. And there is none of that almost automatic distracting anthropomorphizing that all too easily hits us when we look at an animal. Some great sound for thought.
An article in the Guardian today reports that "In two separate experiments, scientists have formed a network from the brains of monkeys and rats, allowing them to co-operate and learn as a “superbrain”". In a nutshell: scientists have connected monkey and rat brains together so that the brains connect and solve problems as a neuronal team. Miguel Nicolelis says that "the development of brain-machine interfaces [...] could allow amputees and paralysed people to directly control prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons," and that the "latest advance may have clinical benefits in brain rehabilitation [...] but could also pave the way for “organic computers” - collectives of animal brains linked together to solve problems." Most telling is Nicolelis's response to the thought that--just perhaps--such an experiment might force comparisons with science fiction: "“We’re conditioned by movies and Hollywood to think that everything related to science is dangerous and scary. These scary scenarios never crossed my mind and I’m the one doing the experiments.”" The scary scenarios never crossed his mind--isn't that the problem here?
mountains are not all pyramid-shaped--which is important for animal survival and for how humans care for the planet
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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