Uncertainty Seminars:

Multispecies (Mis)communication
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29th February 2020

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A well-known experiment conducted in the 1960s, three of the stars of the television show Flipper (Sissy, Pamela, and Peter) were moved to a research laboratory on the Caribbean island of Saint Thomas. Margaret Lowe Howell moved into the facilities full-time to teach the pre-pubescent bottle nose dolphin Peter to speak English. Twice daily, she conducted lessons to teach him to enunciate the phrase ‘hello Margaret’. The ‘m’ sound proved incredibly difficult for Peter, and the experiment was soon defunded. Research priorities have since shifted to focus on the complexity of other species’ own means of communicating, rather than teaching them English.

This edition of Uncertainty Seminars deals with the theme of multispecies & (mis)communication. Since the attempts to make celebrity dolphins part of the anglosphere, artists and scientists have found numerous ways to approach nonhuman communication: from having sheep play Shakespeare, creating a language for the future inhabitants of Mars, to analysing the language of fossils from eras other than the Anthropocene. How can experimental practices show us different ways to live in a multispecies environment?

This edition of Uncertainty Seminars continues the research Stroom undertakes under the umbrella term of De Dingen, launched in 2018, on the changing hierarchies between animals, plants, machines, humans, others, and things.

curated by: Lua Vollaard
program concept: Ilga Minjon & Radna Rumping
design: The Rodina


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