Monuments to Animal Explorers


Animals who have learned to communicate with humans through human-based languages are sometimes regarded as victims of scientific inquiry: held against their will in an environment and social structure very different than what their evolution prepared them for, and furthermore, being asked to learn the language of their captors. This project imagines these individuals instead as explorers, pioneers, and adventurers – the first of their kind of make contact with alien species (us) and our unusual worlds. While this installation offers an opportunity to grant a stronger sense of agency to our animal conversation partners, it also seeks to acknowledge the problematic aspects of adventure and explorer narratives through the metal zoo transport boxes that enclose the dioramas, the collages, and the complicating audio excerpts.

Miniature dioramas housed in metal animal transport boxes; audio guide (13 min) with excerpts from Alfred Russell Wallace's field journals, Franz Kafka's "Red Peter", and a transcript of an AOL chat between members of the public and Koko the Gorilla; handheld audio guide devices; inkjet prints of collages.

Installation at Landmark Arts, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas