Something good comes from repeated failures to communicate
2018 | Video and installation | 18:00
A video in three parts, telling three different stories that play with tensions between interconnectedness and otherness, nature and culture, materiality and disembodiment, science and fiction.
Part one focuses on relations between humans and dolphins in conjunction with military dominance, space dominance and scientific dominance of nature. Borrowing from human-dolphin performances where body and hand gestures are used to communicate, it looks at ideas of attempting to teach dolphins how to speak or communicate in some way with humans, and the inevitable failure of such anthropocentric approaches. This is linked to a specific period during the Space Race, coinciding with a public and scientific interest in dolphin intelligence, where dolphins were seen as extraterrestrials from an alien world who might teach us how to communicate with intelligent life beyond Earth.
Part two begins as a news story of an experiment in which a pig embryo is injected with human stem cells. The artist imagines the human stem cells are her own and fantasises about the mutant creature they are becoming together. The creature acts out various scripts including a comedy set about its own predicament; interviews from the animal psychologist Francine Patterson speaking about the gorilla Koko whom she taught sign language; as well as lines from the character of Penelope, played by Christina Ricci in the 2007 film Penelope.
Part three splices together footage filmed on a GoPro attached to the artist’s mother as she demonstrates the use of her compost heap, with the artist recollecting a story about her sister as a young child. The narrative gradually descends into an apocalypse, or perhaps a post-anthropocentric utopia.