Visiting the Zoological Society of London in November, prior to my visit, I’d never thought about the concepts and debates about zoo’s functions and purpose.
I never really questioned the purpose of the London Zoo; however, I do stand on the side of the Zoological society.
During my recent visit to the London Zoo, unfortunately, they were doing building constructions, which limited the exhibits and the weather wasn’t too great.
During my first visit to the zoo for a very long time, what I observed, the penguins seem to be in a peaceful environment which bears some similarity to their respective natural habitat. Swimming placidly for a change of scenery.
However, the loud annoying school children put me off by staying there and ruined my experience with their adolescent yelling and presence, but they were everywhere to been seen!
The Penguins relaxing and taking advantage of the autumn seasons!
Exploring the installation of ‘Gir National Park’ I was disappointed not to see the lions out and about, rocking the show. I believe they are only out in public for scheduled dates and times. However, you can argue that the habitat already in place does not fit what I believe is the necessary environment.
Spotting the pelicans was an interesting discovery, something you don’t see every day! Though there seems to be a shade of pink in them, which reminds me of flamingos with their stick-like legs!
The statue of late Ming Ming the “world’s oldest giant panda’ (BBC, 2011); expresses how influential she was and created a close bond between her and educating and showing the purpose of the London Zoo when she stayed here in London. Hence, the Zoological Society of London paid tribute by designing a sculpture of her.
Whilst adventuring inside the London Zoo, I encountered a very interesting sculpture by Henri Teixeria de Mattos (1856-1908), which was given as a gift to the then Zoological Society of London by Mr J. B. Wolff. I’m still amazed at how this statue is still here! This piece resembles the opposite of the Zoo’s manifesto. Yes, the sculpture is well crafted, but I think it’s just a little bit out of place in today’s society! This reminds me of the Guardian’s 29th January 2016 online article Cecil Rhodes Statue to Remain at Oxford After ‘Overwhelming Support’ and University of Cape Town’s statue of Cecil Rhodes which was removed, this protest used the Twitter tweet #RhodesMustFall.
Coming across a book listed on the reading list I came across a very interesting article by English art critic, novelist, painter and poet, John Peter Berger’s Why Look at Animals? He claims, and I support the fact, that “Animals are born, are sentient and are moral. In these things they resemble man. In their superficial anatomy – less in their deep anatomy – in their habitats, in their time, in their physical capacities, they differ from man. They are both like and unlike.” (Berger, 1980, p.4). In addition, “The relation may become clearer by comparing the look of an animal with the look of another man. Between two men the abysses are, in principle, bridged by language. Even if the encounter is hostile and no worries and no words are used (even if the two speak different languages), the existence of languages allow that least one of them, if not both mutually, is confirmed by the other. Language allows men to reckon with each other as with individuals. (In the confirmation made possible language, human ignorance and fear may also be confirmed. Whereas in animals fear is a response to signal, in man it is endemic.)” (ibid, p.5). He continues, “An animal’s life, never to be confused with a man’s, can be seen to run parallel to his. Only in death do the two parallel lines converge and after death, perhaps, cross over to become parallel again; hence the widespread belief in the transmigration of souls.” (ibid, p.6). From my interpretation, I believe that from our previous ancestors we can live and co-exist, which was to believe because we have similar anatomies and admire animals, their intelligence, dominance which is due to ‘low threats of dominance ranking from mother nature’; however, the oral and verbal communication with one another which we experience, plus we have similar anatomies with which we are able to co-exist since early civilisation, but our arrogance grew over time, and time developed this concept of men as the superior breeds. Despite that, we must not forget we some animals are closely linked to cultures as Berger reminds us: “Among the Greeks, the sign of the twelve hours of the days were animal” (Berger, 1980), and “Were subjected and worshipped, bred and sacrificed” (Berger, 1980, p. 7).
This brings me to my next topic, as human civilization continues to develop, humans have this natural desire to consume more and fulfil their needs; hence, an ideal vision of, or a glimpse of utopia, is responsible for the majority of man-made causes like deconstruction of habitats and global warming. Where does that leave the animals left in the wild? Berger highlights “In the last two centuries, animals have gradually disappeared. Today we live without them, and a new solitude, anthropomorphism makes us doubly uneasy.” John Berger further expresses the interesting fact that: “In the past, families of all classes kept domestic animals because they served a useful purpose – guard dogs, hunting dogs, mice-killing cats and so on. The practice of keeping animals regardless of their usefulness, the keeping, exactly, of pets (in the 16th century the word usually referred to a lamb raised by hand) is a modern innovation, and, on the social scale on which it exists today, is unique. It is part of that universal but personal withdrawal into the private small family unit, decorated or furnished with mementoes from the outside world, which is such a distinguishing feature of consumer societies. The small family living unit lacks space, earth, other animals, seasons, natural temperatures, and so on. The pet is either sterilised or sexually isolated, extremely limited in its exercise, deprived of almost all other animal contact, and fed with artificial foods. This is the material process which lies behind the truism that pets come to resemble their masters or mistresses. They are creatures of their owner’s way of life.” (ibid, 1980).
After researching, I want to find a way to make my design to serve a commercial function to help further understand the role of zoo’s and a way to raise funds – by making T-Shirts, for example – for the conservation of wild and zoo-bred animals.
Using the blend techniques I created several experimental illustrations on animals as I wanted to see what potentials theses drawings can manifest.
After designing these, for commercial usage, I wanted to use them as a brochure. But I felt that the design can be used for something better. It was during my presentation, my peers and tutor, Angela Michanitzi, gave me more suggestions of how I can incorporate my design as they really like the digital illustration.
Lo and Behold (2016) Directed by Werner Herzog [Film], United Kingdom: Dogwolf.