Interspecies Collaboration Spring 2010 (Art 130 - Visual Art As Culture)

Meeting place:

Office hours:
1:00-3:50PM T/TR
Art 1340, however the class will to a large extent take place were our collaborators are located, the beach, the mountains, parks and at our homes.
Lisa Jevbratt
TR 3:50PM to 5:50PM (Email to set up appointment.)
Class Content: Experimental and experiential class exploring the possibility and implications of making art projects together with animals. The focus of the class is on finding, communicating and working together with our collaborators. The projects can be manifested in a wide range of media and genres; they can be performative, visual, conceptual etc. They should make us aware of, and facilitate, an intellectual, emotional and spiritual partnership with the species around us. The class is a critical investigation of our relationship with non-human animals. It is using aesthetic expressions and collaborations to explore our relationship with non-human animals and to research the world together with them. It has an activist agenda; it is attacking the very root of animal and environmental abuse and mistreatment by trying to change people's conception of humans as a superior species -- you are much less likely to abuse someone you collaborate with. And it has a research agenda; together with other species it uses performative and aestetic methods to generate new ways of studying the world we share. Readings from human/animal studies, philosophy, ethology and other related fields aid in the contextualization of our work. We will also research how other artists have been exploring the field as well as the aesthetic expressions of other species.

During a part of the quarter we will work together with Dr. Toni Frohoff on a collaborative project with the dolphins in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Our research and projects will be documented and presented on the website, which is created for the class but open to the general public as well. The site is provides a space for collaborative research. It is an easy way (you do not need any experience creating web pages) to document the progress of your projects and it allows us to share them and resources and websites with an audience. Students are also encouraged to participate in the continuing development of the site in terms of its structure and features.

The class time will be spent on lectures by visitors and Lisa, discussions, video screenings, field trips, working on projects (sometimes in locations other than the class room), and the creation of a gallery show. You have to spend a large amount of time outside class working on projects.

Assignments: Project(s)
  • One or several independent/group projects: Create one or more art projects in collaboration with non-human animals. Art project are here loosely defined as an aesthetic investigation of any kind. It can involve movement, sound, visuals, systems, technologies etc. Collaboration is for this purpose defined as working together with, or more loosely as doing something in parallel with someone. Most importantly you need to be able to imagine that the animal is collaborating with you, that they have some kind of interest in the project, and that you are not using the animal. One of the reasons for doing these projects is to discuss what "art" and "collaboration" is. Another is to become more respectful of other species experience of the world, and to learn something about it through them.

    You can work with wild animals, semi-wild animals such as farm animals (and maybe lab animals), and pets. All will provide specific challenges and opportunities. Wild animals might be the most difficult to have sustained contact with, domesticated and semi-domesticated animals require the permission and interest of their owners, and that can be difficult to get. Pets might be the easies to communicate with but you might not know any that seem like they want to collaborate. There are many shelters and rescue organization around Santa Barbara (see class links below.) They might be interested in having people collaborating with their animals and it could be very rewarding to work with those animals since they might be deprived of attention, sad and bored.

    You can work directly with the animals or create situations or technologies that allow you to interact and collaborate over time, as long as you feel that your collaborator is "aware" of the collaboration.

  • Collaborative Dolphin Project: Chartered dolphin excursions/performances together with the wildlife biologist Toni Frohoff. We will use movement (both in the manner in which the boat is operated as well as through body posture), eye contact, and above-water sound to engage with the dolphins. Our actions and movements of will be coordinated with the dolphins through various protocols designed by the group. The interactions, which are both an investigation of our relationship with wildlife and the boundaries we create and experience between us, and a collaborative exploration of the Santa Barbara Channel, will be documented using video cameras, cell phones, cameras, hydrophones etc.

  • Weekly project reports: The progress of the project(s) should be documented every week on Project reports should include text and some visual or audio documentation. The reports should include everything from how an idea is formed, how collaborators are contacted and approached, and potential results from the collaboration. Think of the reports partially as a diary (or blog) of your experiences with the collaboration. Document also what is not working, what feels frustrating and difficult. (Write at least 350 words per week.)

  • Project presentation in exhibition format: Each student will exhibit one or more projects made during the quarter. The projects can be exhibited be in the form of physical art works: paintings, sculptures, installations etc. You can also exhibit on-site performances, or documentation of work made elsewhere (for that the weekly progress reports can be used to some extent but it should be reworked to fit within a gallery exhibition context).

    In addition the collaborative dolphin project will be exhibited as an installation in which all the documentation generated during the excursions will be presented.
Building Context
  • Submit your profile to (Click on "Start Collaborate!")

  • Short written reviews of the readings should be submitted to the site.

  • During the course of the class submit at least 6 resources (websites, art projects, books, articles, CDs etc) to They have to fit into the existing subjects (or if you identify a new subject of importance ask Lisa to add it to the site).

  • 1-2 class presentations of initial research for a project. The research should include information regarding habits, play- and aestetic- behavior etc about the species you work with and cultural, sociological and psychological implications and significance of our relationship with that species.

  • In addition the students will be asked to contemplate specific questions and be prepared to discuss these questions in class.

  • Submit comments on other student's projects to the site.

Readings: A couple of more texts might be added depending on guest speaker requests.

Potential locations for animal interactions/collaborations Map (under construction), map link for iphone
Animals in Captivity, Shelters etc
Wild Animals
See due dates in red. Remember in addition to what is listed below, each week you should write at least 350 words and upload images/video/sound about or from your projects and project development. and project ideas.

Week 1 (March 30, April 1)
Tue. Lecture: Class introduction
Thur. Due: Buy the book by Nollman: "The Man Who Talks to Whales: the Art of Interspecies Communication"

Thur. Due: Add your profile to Start communicating with and/or pay attention to the animals you meet during your day.
Thur. Field Trip: Meet at 1PM sharp at The UCSB "REEF". See class map for location.

Week 2 (April 6, April 8)
Tue. Class: Phoebe Linden from Santa Barbara Bird Farm will visit and talk about parrots. (Potential opportunity for collaboration.)

Thur. Reading: Chapter 1 (Turkey Trot) and 4 (Interspecies Protocol) from from Jim Nollman's "The Man Who Talks to Whales: the Art of Interspecies Communication" Be prepared to discuss the texts in class. Write a paragraph about what is the most interesting to you about each chapter.
Submitt the paragraps to the site:

Add Content->Text
Title: whatever you want
Type: Other
Subject: Art Made Together With Non Human Animals
Animals Involved: Whale, Rooster (maybe more...)
Text: Your paragraphs about the chapters
Connect Text To ->Resource
Select "The Man Who Talks With Whales ..."
Thur. Class: 1. Text Discussions
2. Interspecies Art Lecture (1)
Thur. Talk: Jim Nollman: The Art and Science of Interspecies Communication 6:30PM, Chemistry 1179.

Week 3 (April 13, April 15)
Tue. Due: Project ideas.
Tues. Class: 1. Interspecies Art Lecture (2)
2. Discuss project ideas.
3. Viewing Animal Attraction, a video by Kathy High about telepathic animal communication.
Tue. Talk: Cloud Eye Control 5PM in Broida 1610.

Thur. Class: Barbara Janell, animal communicator, will be visiting us. Please be on time.

Week 4 (April 20, April 22)
Tue. Due: Attempt to communicate with an animal using what you learned in Barbara Janell's workshop. Write a description of your experience on the website. (Submit it as a "text", categorize it as a "reflection").
Tue. Reading: Chapter 8, Fear of the Familiar, in The Postmodern Animal by Steve Baker (2000)
(reading provided the week before)
Be prepared to discuss the text in class. Write a paragraph about what is the most interesting to you about the chapter.
Submitt the paragrap to the site:

Add Content->Text
Title: whatever you want
Type: Other
Subject: History/Philosophy - Relationship Human/Non-Human
Text: Your paragraph about the chapter
Connect Text To ->Resource
Select "The Postmodern Animal"

If you did not participate in the discussion, download the discussion questions here and address them all in the text you submit to the site.

Thur. Class
Field Trip:
Lil Orphan Hammies A sanctuary for pot bellied pigs. (1181 Fredensborg Canyon Rd, Solvang 693-9953)(it's on the class map)
Carpooling needs to be organized. Do not forget to give Lisa the liability waiver. Be there at 1.30PM. It takes an hour to get there. Bring cameras or drawing tools or whatever else you might need to sketch ideas. (Or even make a fast little project) Read about pot bellied pigs. What are they doing that could be considered creative activity?

IMPORTANT: If you were not in class on Tuesday, you have to go by the art office to sign a liability waiver before the trip. Whitout that you can not come on the trip. Leave the waiver with Trela.

Week 5 (April 27, April 29)
Tue. Due: Student Project Reports
Tue. Class: Carol Gigliotti visiting the class.
Student Project Presentations
Tue. Talk: Carol Gigliotti: Animals in Art 5PM in Broida 1610.

Thur. Class: Project work time. Class will not meet.

Week 6 (May 4, May 6)
Tue. Due: Money ($50) for Santa Cruz Island Trip (last day to sign up was Thursday April 29)
Tues. Class: Viewing the movie "Walking with Giants: The Grizzlies of Siberia"

Thur. Reading: Charlie Russell's (depicted in "Walking with Giants: The Grizzlies of Siberia") response to the death of Timothy Treadwell (depicted in Grizzly Man) ONLINE
Write and upload a paragraph responding to the text and both movies after we watched both movies.
Thur. Class: 1. Viewing the movie "Grizzly Man"
2. Movie (both Grizzly Man and Walking With Giants) and text discussion.

Week 7 (May 11, May 13)
Tue. Reading: Chapter 10 from Jim Nollman's "The Man Who Talks to Whales: the Art of Interspecies Communication"
Be prepared to discuss the text in class. Write a paragraph about what is the most interesting to you about the text. Submitt the paragrap to the site:

Add Content->Text
Title: whatever you want
Type: Other
Subject: Interspecies Communication
Animals Involved: Dolphins (maybe more...)
Text: Your paragraphs about the chapters
Connect Text To ->Resource
Select "The Man Who Talks With Whales ..."
Tue. Class: 1. Text discussion
2. Island Trip Planning

Thurs. Reading: Chapters 5 & 6 (Pages 116-162) from Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communication by Toni Frohoff and Kathleen M. Dudzinski
Be prepared to discuss the text in class. Have TWO questions prepared from the texts for Toni. Write a paragraph about what is the most interesting to you about the text. Submitt the paragrap to the site:

Add Content->Text
Title: whatever you want
Type: Other
Subject: Interspecies Communication
Animals Involved: Dolphins (maybe more...)
Text: Your paragraphs about the chapters
Connect Text To ->Resource
Select "Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking..."
Thur. Class: 1. Lecture by Toni Frohoff
2. Island Planning
Sat-Mon. Field Trip: Santa Cruz Island ;-)
Meet at 8.00 AM sharp at Island Packers in Ventura. See class map for location.
Research the animals on the Santa Cruz island (see links on the location list above).

Info about the island and research station:
Reserve Homepage

Photos from the island from Fall 2008 (and a show with works made on the island)

Week 8 (May 18, May 20)
Tue. Due: Collaborative dolphin project ideas.
Tue. Class: Dolphin Project discussion with Toni Frohoff

Tue. Class: Dolphin Project Planning

Week 9 (May 25, May 27)
Dophin Project on the Santa Barbara Channel with Condor Express 2.30PM to 6PM. (email Lisa if you have a class/work time conflict at that time.)
Class meets on the beach next to Condor Express (sign says 'Sea Landing') at 1.30PM to finetune ideas.

map to condor express
Condor Express
There will be tea/coffee/snacks for purchase on the boat.

Marine Mammal Protection Act

Thurs. Due: Update your project pages with images etc. Select a project for exhibition (or have the group help selecting)
Thurs. Class: 1. Discuss how to show whatever we did on Tuesday in our show. Bring all your documentation of it.
2. Very brief student project presentations (2 minutes) about the project that will be in the show.
Dolphin Project Links: KML file with gps path (for google earth)
NMEA file with gps path (can be parsed with perl or translated to other formats using gpsbabel)

Hydrophone file 1 (Thanks to Toni Frohoff and Protect Our Dolphins)
Hydrophone file 2 (Thanks to Toni Frohoff and Protect Our Dolphins)

Timeline from Lindsey

Week 10 (June 1, June 3)
Tue.: 1. Plannign the exhibition of individual work and the dolphin project.
2. Fixing up the gallery, making it ready for hanging.

Thur. : Hanging Exhibition

Friday May 4 : EXHIBITION at UCSB Gallery 1434
Interspecies Collaboration "How To"
UC Reserves Rules for Working with Wild Animals
Wildlife Threats: Imprinting
Zoo Enrichment, Octopus
Images above: Cover from the book "Dancing with Cats", Burton Silver and Heather Busch. (companion website)
The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project, Komar and Melamid.
Jim Nollman ( playing music with whales.
"I love America and America Loves Me", Joseph Beuys and Coyote.