The Nature of Art Concerning The Art of Nature

Salutations!  I am fresh from a meeting with my mentor, John Fergus-Jean, and preparing for a critique of my work on Wednesday.  John and I have been focusing less on looking at images, more on the theory, history, and psychology behind what I am creating this semester.  My images include my dogs and myself, largely unedited (discounting a shift from color to black and white, and some minor exposure adjustments), shot from three different view points; the human view (carefully composed, focused, sharp, etc.), the canine view (much wider angle, unconcerned with focus, holistic), and a third omniscient viewer (looking down upon us from a non-human or canine vantage point, uncropped, indiscriminate).  What my images are communicating about is human projection upon animals (on both man and beast, we don’t discriminate who/what we project onto) of human emotions, motivations, and needs.  Studies have proven that dogs cannot feel shame, as they do not possess morality, but we still project onto them that they are “ashamed” when they get caught doing something we have trained them not to, or, worse yet, when they surpass our expectations and do something we never even thought to train them not to do.  We have a strange tendency, as humans, to want to make everything speak in our voice, both literally and figuratively; pet owners speak for their pets (out loud) all the time, and project human tendencies onto them.  This exploration is turning into a humorous book (words and pictures) that uses photographs from all three viewpoints to examine this tendency, and hopefully highlight its absurdity and egocentrism.  In addition to reading a lot of books on the nature and psychology of communication with dogs, I am also reading Post-Colonialist theory, Gender and Feminist theory, and the politics of communication and the gaze.

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