Tag Archive: animals


Thinking forests & animals

Here’s one of the participants at the AAA’s ontology panel, McGill anthropologist Eduardo Kohn, applying ontological speculation — including Peirce and biosemiotics — to animals and forests:

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“Shoot” as in film, photograph, capture and display, but also fly with them, shoot the rapids of their movement, accompany them, become starling. These mesmerizing videos of moving masses of starlings, “murmurations” as they’re called, like other YouTube animal videos, tell us as much about the phenomenon being watched as about those watching it.

It all gets going here at around the 3’20″ mark. But it would be nice if we were given some alternative soundtrack options. Like this one, with no commentary, just a few intertitles, set to the music of Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble:

I like the interplay between still shots and motion sequences, and even the traffic moving beneath them, and the sound of the traffic, adds a nice touch.

Bill Oddie’s video is as much about the starlings as about its quietly awestruck observer, with his whispered play-by-play, Qigong-like imitative acrobatics, and the way he holds his hands up for warming to the blue TV-screen light of the starling-filled sky:

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At a time when so many social mammal species are in crisis, it’s at least heartening to see news like tonight’s 60 Minutes segment on “The Secret Language of Elephants” or today’s Times Online article “Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons’.” The scientific taboo on anthropomorphism is finally lifting, and animal behavior studies are becoming more like anthropology — something that only lone rogue anthros like John Lilly or Barbara Noske would have dared call for not too long ago…

polar bag

Ambient electroacoustic artists Stars of the Lid do a beautiful job with thisEnvironmental Defense Fund NYC subway ad campaign video.

The other ads in the series can be viewed here.