We have talked a lot in this class about the many ways in which animals are represented through photography. For example, Jo-Anne McArthur spoke to our class about her work. We also discussed things like “hunting with the camera” instead of a gun. Photography, it seems, was relevant to all of our weekly discussions.
To that end, I wanted to share some recent press that two very interesting photographic projects have received this week:
-Mary Shannon Johnstone’s “Landfill Dogs” project was featured on My Modern Met
–Isa Leshko‘s “Elderly Animals” series was featured on Smithsonian.com
Assigned Reading: Matthew Brower, “Trophy Shots: Early North American Photographs of Nonhuman Animals and the Display of Masculine Prowess.” Society and Animals 13, no. 1 (2005): 13-31.
Discussion Leaders: Shelby, Kerri, Rachel
1) In the reading it was said that ” replacing the rifle with the camera allowed the nation to continue to experience the stimulus if hunting without completely destroying the game.” Do you think that camera hunting was and effective way to promote and encourage conservation of wild life?
2) Roosevelt took the lead of the middle class manliness and used the interest as a tool of celebrating his accomplishments as a rancher, to recreating him as ?a modern Western hero? in attempts to shed the over-refined Harvard mask he had worn before. In doing so he was able to advocate for the preservation of the woods. Does the root of the general drive for advocating conservation matter if there is good that came?s from it?
3)One of the main arguments in this article is whether or not capturing a photograph of an animal is comparable to physically capturing one. Can a photograph of an animal hold as much value as a physical animal trophy (ie. antlers, heads, and tusks)? Does it lose its masculine prowess?
4)It is mentioned in the article that the dwindling of game to hunt resulted in the move from mass killings to a more selective hunt. The kills that counted towards the development of prowess were only considered if the animal was given a fighting chance. Realistically speaking, was the animal really ever given a chance in the face of death by human? How does this shape the image of ?etiquette? associated with the modernized hunt?
5)People became disconnected from nature and sought to reconnect through hunting, so camera hunting emerged around this time. Would the emergence of camera hunting allow people to become more connected with nature than hunting with a gun? And how would the hunter’s encounter with the wilderness change?
Want to see some pretty incredible photographs of “wild” animals living in an abandoned house in Finland? Of course you do!
And on the subject of neat photographic projects relating to this class, you don’t want to miss “The Daily Life of a Grandma and Her Odd-Eyed Cat.”
Assigned Reading: Derek Bousé, “False Intimacy: Close-Ups and Viewer Involvement in Wildlife Films.” Visual Studies 18, no. 2 (October 2003): 123-32.
Discussion Leaders: Ashley, Sonya, Sarah
1. The article states that ‘shots of animals looking into the camera is often discarded and replaced with false point of view shots that appear to show the animals reacting to something other than the camera’. In regards to the editing processes, as well as the presence of the cameraman, do you believe that wildlife films are a form of fiction? Why or why not?
2. After reading about Barbara Carter’s experience of kissing and cuddling a lion, do you believe that wild life/ Disney anthropomorphic films create unrealistic perceptions and expectations of animals that are putting people at risk?
3. The article discusses the way in which film close-ups are the “creative instruments of a mighty visual anthropomorphism.” Spoken narratives throughout the films are also used to make clear what emotions the animal is supposed to be experiencing. Do you believe that these carefully edited and narrated wildlife films are the reason that we as humans have a connection with non-human wild animals – and the reason we sometimes attempt this interaction when seen in the wild? Explain an instance when this has personally happened to you.
4. On page 26 of the article the author mentions that David Attenborough feels that making animals “interesting and beautiful” will ultimately result in viewers of wildlife documentaries feeling “more concerned with wildlife protection”. But what can be said about framing an animal as both interesting and frightening? What are negative and positive implications that this could have on our perception of animals such as sharks? Do you have any other examples from film or wildlife documentaries? [video clip]
5. Do you believe wildlife filmmakers altered our perceptions on wild animals, our understanding of them, and our relationship to them? Has the zoo done this? YouTube videos? Cartoon TV shows and movies? How has it benefited them?
Assigned Reading: Carol Freeman, “Imaging Extinction: Disclosure and Revision in Photographs of the Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger).” Society & Animals 15, no. 3 (2007): 241-56.
Discussion Leaders: Matt, Alexandra, Kate
1. In the article Freemen states that: “photographs are as much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are..” Is there truth in this statement and are there any instances where photography can be argued to be separate from art? How do aesthetics affect this relationship?
2. Why is it important to consider “the gaze” and “spectacle” when looking at photographs of the thylacine?
3. In what ways was the thylacine improperly represented? How do power dynamics influence how we can perceive these images and the animal itself?
4. In the case of the Thylacine, did either animal or human benefit from the act and outcome of photography?