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It looks like we are gold digging in a laboratory setting. Kind of. We’re looking for black gold, understand oil, in its plastic concretion broken down into tiny particles that we try to catch under the microscope, improvising ways to make plastics legible to the human eye. The samples were taken in Meech Lake and Rideau Canal. We bleached the material with peroxide, let it set for several days, filtered with nylon cloth, and put under the light of the microscope. We look for the material qualities, its color, shape and resistance to the tweezers pressure, which may betray its presence among the rocks. We eventually found a few traces of plastics, like this green particle in the photograph below.
I am returning to Ottawa this Friday. I don’t feel like my work here is ending since I’ve made so many friends, and will need their help in the future. I will miss being surrounded by people, and wearing the same thing every day. I will miss the trees and stars, and swimming naked in the river. I will not miss the mosquitoes. I have missed my old friends, my family, one of the highest concentration of PhD’s in Canada, and electronic dance music. I miss being somewhere where I’ve put in a lot of time. I don’t miss smoke, garbage, apathy, sickness, suffering, the second highest rent in the country, and products designed to destroy life. Especially food. Spend a few hours at McDonald’s on Rideau Street. It’s worse in New York. I have armed myself with a few tricks. Let’s see if I can remind myself of some of the things I’ve learned here. The first is something I would call a memory skeleton. Where Dracula’s Renfield wanted to absorb life energy by eating the food chains., I wanted to boost the pool of potential futures in a given place. This is still running in the background of my mind, but I haven’t […]
I told my friend that I wanted to start a church called the Church of the Machine. He told me that it would be easy, since religions are just a combination of bits and pieces laying around. Like a good social scientist I told him it probably had to do with charisma, which Weber thought was needed for the birth of an institution. It was usually activated through ascetic practices. Charisma was needed to convince, to have conviction. When a new fish joins the aquarium for more than five minutes, the host fish will change their gene expression for up to four hours. During our supply trip around the island, my friend and I stopped to pick up rocks from the river. He told me that everyone has autistic traits, but they need to be expressed to reach a diagnosis. He related that he felt his mom, who works with autistic kids, is profiling him. He said he’s not autistic, just grumpy. While experimenting with ‘states’ in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), I learned a few tricks. In NLP a social situation is analyzed according to five positions. The first position is from your perspective, the second from the other, the third from an […]
How do economies arise? At their base, they are made up of transactions. Different types of economies are sewn together like a quilt. The economic quilt on Manitoulin is like a disorganized scrapbook. A disorganized scrapbook would have elements from different times laid side-by-side. In a quilt different elements are sewn together. Quilting leaves seams. Consider that in the King James Bible the Greek word ‘eon’ is translated into ‘world’. The end of the world does not mean fire and brimstone, but, according to Crossan “a physical, feral, and social life in a transfigured world on a transformed earth”. How is it that I can buy a plasma cutter to build a bio-char kiln in the same breath as building a flight of stairs; meet a crypto-lender the day Interac shuts down; or build compost boxes next to a member of a radical life-extension corporation? I first saw the gift economy when we were given fish, with no expected return. I later saw the barter economy when we helped a friend and store owner move, and they gifted us a large bulk order of food with the expectation that we would pay it back through building. I learned about social […]
A Brazilian told me that the flies are less vicious in their country because they have something to peck at all year. In Canada their species is nearly wiped out during the winter, so they are hungrier. We can’t figure out why the skunks, weasels, and raccoons are so desperate for our chickens though. The chickens have freed themselves from the fencing, and nibble on our strawberries. They are fun to throw rhubarb at. Chickens are also easy to talk to, and understand that I know karate. What sort of diplomacy goes on between animals and humans? According to native mythology, there are certain animals who are our helpers and teachers. No doubt, others are not our friends. Consider poison ivy, who tricks our immune system into attacking our skin. Although a few people are genetically immune to the effects of poison ivy, those who are not suffer worse every time as the immune system becomes more adept at detecting and attacking the poison ivy. Some people joke that the poison ivy is nature’s way of saying ‘screw off humans.’ If only there were a way to negotiate peace with the mosquitoes. Fortunately, this way of life continuously gives gifts to the […]
Hello everyone, Quick update on the chickens: they have all contracted bronchitis. This means that few will die, but the rest will suffer a lower quality of life, effectively not laying any eggs at all. We preemptively killed one. It was delicious. I have had a really busy week. I participated in two Native American ceremonies, a trade show and one Green Party presentation/meeting. As often happens, tackling one research heavy problem opened the doors to many others. This week has been expansive. I will carve out some of my thoughts here. I was commissioned to research our next irrigation system. It was easy to separate, in the abstract, that we should either do drip irrigation or clay pot irrigation. Originally recorded in an ancient Chinese farming text called the Fan Sheng-chih Shu, the clay pot method of irrigation seemingly evolved into what we call drip irrigation today (Bainbridge, 2000)(Goyal, 2012). Clay pot irrigation is good because, when heated, placed, and maintained properly, the clay pot’s pores allow the plant to access exactly as much water as it needs. For a description of costs and techniques check out a short report done by the United Nations Environment Programme where its use […]
Dans l’intimité des espaces domestiques les relations entre l’humain et le cannabis ont dérivé dans des développements techniques et de nouveaux assemblages, hybridations et croissances de la plante. Dans les pénombres de la prohibition et du tabou, les lampes aux halogénures métalliques, les lampes au sodium à haute pression et les diodes électroluminiscentes ont remplacé le rayonnement solaire pour simuler/recréer artificiellement les longueurs d’onde différentiels du spectrum de la lumière nécessaires à la croissance, à la reproduction et au fleurissement. La cultivation domestique du cannabis et l’indoor a donc pris des éclairages nouveaux qui ont propulsé de nouvelles puissances de diversification des rapports et des affects humain-cannabis, et ce dans les pénombres « du placard » et dans les intimités -enjeux- domestiques. De nouvelles promiscuités/intimités en involution ont brassé les humains, les plantes et les dispositifs techniques avec des résultats inusités. En conséquence, une naturalia cannabique en expansion s’est faufilée dans les interstices et les angles morts de l'(il)légalité : une pléthore de souches (strains) de différentes variations du cannabis ont vu le jour sous la forme d’une taxonomie débridée et étincellante et les logiques combinatoires du génome de la plante ont réintégré les sous-espèces du cannabis dans de nouveaux exemplaires -engins- […]
Chicken society is rich with symbolism. As I get more creative in my interactions with chickens and their animal compatriots I discover more and more Easter Eggs. I believe I am the first to discover that chicks dig freestyle drumming. They become transfixed by the music when you drum on their bin. Afterwards they go back to normal. Dance Floor Earlier in the season we were storing chicks in the bin above. We would joke about altering their entire world when we made any significant changes. We were moving their sun around when we moved the heating lamp, and moving their world when we moved their bin. We had to pick them up once in a while to get them used to humans. We failed miserably, and they are still afraid of us. Sadly, I was unable to pick up the chicks. Joking aside, animals here are one part commodity, one part friend, another part food, while others are just pests. As I write this we are about to order 12 new ducks for the farm. Jaime: I want to get some ducks (names the varieties, and how much each cost) Justin (the boss): Let me ask Rachel how she […]
It’s fair to say that most of human life is spent on a solid surface. Of all the surfaces of human life the most fruit-bearing is land. The animal kingdom has and may forever need to eat to stay alive. However, the proliferation of industrial technique has temporarily eradicated our collective landbase. For instance, the City of Ottawa is unwilling to plant fruit bearing trees due to the inevitable liability: the food is grown on poisonous land, and eating it could be harmful to the citizens. Bill Mollison, the grandfather of Permaculture uses the word edaphic to explain social organizations in history. He said that the acidic soil of the desert in the Middle East caused their religions by creating the conditions for significantly more female births than males. Marx never went so far as to look at the chemical compositions of the soils upon which he based his historical materialism. What sorts of people happen when the land is metallic, I wonder? After ten days here I have situated myself in the demilitarized zone between two over-simplified camps called technology and nature. Any critical reader can quickly break those down into nonsense. Since I am concerned with time, I […]
It’s been less than four days since I arrived just outside Little Current. The farm I’m on is called Manitoulin Permaculture. I live in a tent with a fluctuating population of 5-10 other people. Over the past few days we have had Buddhist monks visiting. They stay in a large dome in the forest, I stay in a tent. To get to Manitoulin I left from Tobermory and took the Chi-Cheemaun, which means big canoe in Ojibwe. There I was picked up by Shane, the lead intern at the farm. We talked about what I wanted to accomplish on the farm and a bit about how things work. Although we didn’t get into details, here’s what I’ve learned so far: -Since our crops aren’t all ready to harvest we pay a small fee to run a communal food purchase. We subsidize our food with produce from the farm. For instance, we have a big chicken coop right next to my tent, who double as my alarm, that lay eggs for us to eat at breakfast. It is great fun chasing them and plopping them into their egg-laying station. -Laziness is extremely frowned upon, although it is 7am here, and […]
Terranus, composé de terra, “la terre”, et de nus se référant directement à la texture de la terre, le terrain est d’abord texte qui du latin texo veut dire “composer, tramer, tisser”. Faire du terrain, lire un texte, c’est y déceler une trame ou un tissage de relations. La texture d’un texte écrit, comme celle d’un terrain, varie dépendemment de la matière tissée. Parfois cette texture caresse, gratte, brûle au contact de la peau. Faire du terrain c’est donc quelque part être saisie par ce terrain, c’est développer un rapport avec le lieu en question. Le terrain n’est donc pas neutre, il nous affecte. Ainsi, si nos présences au monde sont par définition contingentes entre elles, il n’y a pas de hors-texte ou de hors-milieu possible pour l’individu. Tout est texte-contexte et l’humain est pris dans des réseaux de relations formant son milieu, duquel il ne peut s’extraire. Contrairement à la conception qui en était faite au début de l’anthropologie avec Franz Boas et Bronislaw Malinowski, faire du terrain, c’est tout sauf s’en extraire. Tandis que Boas a introduit la recherche de terrain à l’anthropologie, l’observation de terrain se faisait en retrait de l’objet d’analyse. Par la suite, Malinowski a […]
Both as an artist and researcher, my hypothesis is that morphogenesis is first about appearing (self-presenting), and that cinematographic means of attention can access these bioaesthetic layers of worldly entanglements. counter illumination by the lantern shark, image by Jérôme Mallefet (UCL) Denis Villeneuve, Arrival, 2016 Adolf Portmann, Animal Forms JB, photoductility Map of light pollution’s visual impact on the night sky My research is an experiment conducted with marine biology and indigenous metaphysics. The ambition of this work is to render the full extent of our understanding of complex and often yet undiscovered ecosystems in the ocean. In continuity with my previous film work I aim to propose images made without external lighting, highly sensitive to feeble light forms. This challenge is both epistemic and technical: inventing the proper methodological framework and equipment in order to gather images of these organisms, and exploring open mind sets and affective qualities sensitive to near-invisible life forms. In the ocean, the vast zone between approximately 200 meters and 1000 meters where sunlight progressively disappears and is replaced by biological light, is called the “twilight zone”. Here the ocean is anything but dark, however the relation between bodies and light is radically other than that on […]
La pensée et la culture ont longtemps été considérées comme principales prémisses pour définir l’homme en contra-distinction avec l’animal. L’exploitation du nonhumain par l’humain est souvent justifiée par une supposée supériorité intellectuelle, par la capacité à ce que certains appellent la “culture” tandis que les animaux-nonhumains seraient issus de la “nature”. Concernant la notion de supériorité intellectuelle, Morgan, dans Le castor américain, en fait un argument contre l’exploitation à outrance de l’animal, ou en tout cas du castor qu’il juge capable de théoriser son environnement, preuve qu’il n’est pas complètement dénué de toute intelligence (Morgan 2010, 262). Bien que Morgan dépasse les considérations seulement utilitaristes concernant la gestion des populations animales pour assurer la viabilité du commerce de peaux (Morgan 1868, 246), son argument maintient que l’intelligence reste la base pour justifier un rapport éthique envers des individus même non-humains. À ce sujet, Lestel rétorque que étant donné que nous traitons en tant que sujets donc, et non pas objets les individus autistes ou affectés de lésions cérébrales, en dépit même du fait qu’ils ne sont pas plus loquaces ni plus “penseurs” comme les humains dits “normaux”, la valeur d’un individu humain est vraisemblablement définie en fonction de sa ressemblance […]
[English] HAL member Nicolas Rasiulis spent several months in 2014 living among the Dukha Tsaatans, a small community of reindeer herders who inhabit a taiga landscape in northern Mongolia. He has recently written a piece where he reflects on the particular methodological approach that emerged through his experiences and relationships with the Tsaatans and their animal companions, and which underpinned his Master’s thesis project, entitled “Freestyle Bearing: Work, Play, and Synergy in the Practice of Everyday Life Among Mongolian Reindeer Pastoralists” (2016). Follow hyperlink to view the PDF of an unabridged version of his piece published in Culture, CASCA’s newsletter/blog. Version published in Culture. [Français] Nicolas Rasiulis, membre du HAL, a passé plusieurs mois en 2014 à vivre parmi les Dukha Tsaatans, une communauté d’éleveurs de rennes qui habite dans la taïga située au nord de la Mongolie. Il vient d’écrire un article où il discute de l’approche méthodologique qui a émergé au fur et à mesure de ses expériences et rapports avec les Tsaatans et leurs companions animaux, et qui lui a permis de produire son projet de thèse intitulé “Freestyle Bearing: Work, Play, and Synergy in the Practice of Everyday Life Among Mongolian Reindeer Pastoralists” (2016). Suivez le lien pour voir la version […]
De l’élevage en fermes, à la transformation des carcasses en élixirs, en passant par la chasse de trophées et la pose photographique, le documentaire Blood Lions, réalisé en 2015 par Nick Chevallier et Bruce Young, explore les implications économiques, écologiques mais aussi éthiques d’une industrie touristique de conserve de lions en Afrique du Sud. Dans un tel dispositif de capture, l’animal est pris dans un circuit de commercialisation s’étendant bien au-delà de l’Afrique du Sud et concernant notamment les pays occidentaux d’où la majorité des touristes alimentant cette industrie proviennent. L’initiative Blood Lions entend justement faire pression auprès de gouvernements de pays de la communauté internationale afin que soit interdit le retour de trophées et ainsi limiter l’attractivité de cette industrie touristique. En 2015, l’élevage de lions en captivité concernait déjà une population de prédateurs félins (dont les lions constituent la majorité) de plus de 8000 individus. Le tourisme de conserve ne bénéficie qu’à une minorité d’individus et ne représente qu’une faible proportion de l’ensemble de l’industrie du tourisme en Afrique du Sud. De peu d’utilité à l’économie nationale, cette industrie est en fait potentiellement dommageable à l’image du pays et à son activité touristique dans son ensemble. Qui plus […]
The Man With His Feet Apart [Le chant de la nuit] A feature film by Les Plans du Pélican, co-directed with Fabien Clouette, HD — color — 54′ — 2017 Dusk, night and dawn in the eighteenth arrondissement in Paris. As we follow the relationship of two women, day progressively rises. Unsure whether they are actual bodies or spirits, the characters roam liminary spaces under the monstrous presence of the Basilica of Montmartre and encounter other figures in the streets and in the night sky. With their “feet apart” they simultaneously inhabit and escape their embodiments.
“El abrazo le llevará a lugares históricos donde no existía siquiera el embrión“. – Karamakate, dans El abrazo de la serpiente. Penser l’ayahuasca comme l’évènement où a lieu une sorte d’étreinte implique l’existence d’altérités humanimaliennes, végetales ou hybrides, organiques ou inorganiques, (é)prises dans l’enlacement de la liane. On peut dès lors réfléchir à cette créature-plante en tant que locus d’interaction et de croissance, un devenir qui noue des interactions interspécifiques et interactives dans le frayage de son expansion, de sa circulation et de ses transmutations. L’évènement-ayahuasca met donc sur la scène un mouvement qui se frotte avec la texture des choses virtuelles et actuelles de ce monde tout en les enlaçant et en les codifiant dans ses torsions et ses cordages. Ayahuasca, mot quechua, veut littéralement dire corde (waskha) de l’esprit ou de la mort (aya). Cette invocation rhétorique n’ébauche pas seulement les formes tressées et sinueuses de l’organisme végétal (qui s’enlace avec d’autres plantes pour les potentialiser dans leurs effets et leurs affects, comme la chacruna et le yopo), mais aussi les nœuds qui actualisent les puissances d’intase/extase qui se manifestent dans l’étreinte, puissances d’abduction de l’esprit ou de l’âme à l’égard du corps (é)pris dans […]
En janvier 2016, la revue scientifique Science déclarait officiellement l’entrée de notre planète dans une nouvelle époque géologique: l’anthropocène. Notamment révélée par la signature de technofossiles issus du pétrole dans les strates sédimentaires, cette nouvelle époque est caractéristique d’un système économique et politique mondial dit pétromoderne — qualifiant ici la dépendance accrue de notre monde au pétrole. Si le pétrole s’inscrit en une signature géologique sur la surface de la Terre, il a été question ici d’écouter et de capturer la manière dont le pétrole s’inscrit au travers de nos gestes quotidiens dans une station essence. Periplum Petroleum est une signature phonique du pétrole composée à partir des traces laissées au passage du pétrole dans son couplage avec l’humain: de la pompe au pot d’échappement en passant par les instruments de surveillance, de visualisation, des appareils d’enregistrement de paiements… Tous entrent dans la composition de cet agencement matériel qu’est le pétrole. Ce phonogramme (litt: écrit phonique) sert de meta-enregistrement. Il enregistre les enregistrements du passage du pétrole, et tente de composer avec les sons du pétrole pour détourner la non-signification du bruit et tenter de rendre “queer” la répétition et normalisation du bruit, qui renvoie ici à la normalisation […]
Si l’anthropologie est l’étude de ce que être humain veut dire, se pose la question intimement lié du rapport que nous entretenons avec les autres, humains et non-humains, mais aussi au non- vivant, et à ce que j’appellerai milieu pour inclure ce et ceux qui constituent notre monde. En s’inspirant d’une approche écologique des relations, cet essai propose que pour comprendre ce qu’est l’humain, nous ne devons pas nous attacher à ses attributs, c’est à dire à l’observation de différences et de similarités entre des groupes d’individus, mais nous intéresser aux processus par lesquels l’humain devient au monde dans sa complicité au milieu. Cet essai propose de décentrer l’humain des études anthropologiques pour penser une anthropologie du non-humain et plus particulièrement du non-vivant. Je m’intéresse ici à la manière dont le non-vivant, dans son couplage avec le vivant, devient force d’animation. La question que je me pose est celle de l’(in)formation du mouvement, de ce qui fait “soi” ou disons “personne” et société en passant par notre rapport à l’apriori inanimé. Plutôt que de poser la question du “qu’est ce que l’inanimé” ou du “qu’est-ce que l’humain”, comme si la réponse à ce qui donne vie se trouvait logée quelque […]
Bx46 Exploratory Documentary, codirected with Fabien Clouette – HD – 74’ – 2014 Bx46 is an exploration of some species of spaces in the South Bronx industrial complex. Somewhere between a video-portrait, an archive, and a video-atlas, Bx46 spirals out from the workers, buyers and sellers towards a deep engagement with the material implications of space itself. “Carefully self-effacing, Brugidou and Clouette eschew overt editorializing — no voiceover, no expository title cards — but their points are eloquently conveyed in a film that can seek and find beauty in the most unlikely of places. Colors are an eye-catchingly bold array of pungent primary hues, harshly illuminated by electric light in strong contrast to the night skies which look down over these round-the-clock enterprises. The directors’ eye for revealing detail and telling incident is sharp — as when a barrel of crabs is knocked over, allowing its crustacean inmates a desperate, brief, doomed break for freedom.” Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter “Directed By Jeremie Brugidou, Fabien Clouette. These first-timers’ impressionistic study of the Fulton Fish Market in Hunts Point is peppered with the recollections of old salts. e directors aim to examine the history accreted from decades of daily life—for instance, why […]
From the depths of the Borneo jungle through the dark web to private ménageries, this paper reflects on the expansion of contemporary wildlife trafficking and maps an early 21st century trade in living organisms, dead animal parts and metempsychic imaginaries. Involving, among many other emerging relational entanglements, life and death issues, big money, commercial routes and their extensive influence over land, people and spirits, as well as deep affective states infused with apocalyptic narratives, blood and bullets, tourism and terrorism, I report here on the curious case of pangolins poaching. Addressing issues pertaining to the characterization of life forms, I detect in today’s so-called ‘multispecies-turn’ a problematic conceptualization of what an animal is – be it alive or dead, should it be poached, protected, consumed, mourn or hold responsible for a new geological epoch. By looking at individuals from the perspective of their individuations, rather than the opposite (i.e. looking at individuation processes from the perspective of an already individuated organism), I offer a positive, operative and alternative concept – individuation complexes – to think otherwise about emerging lives and, therefore, reengage with their intrinsic potentialities. Poached Lives traded Forms – SSI 55(3) 2017 – full article Photo Paul Hilton
The first of a few thoughts on the woollen. I offer this article as my first general and humble ‘Baaaa’ on the matter. Have you ever smelt your woollen mittens all wet after a winter’s frolic? Mine smell like I’ve stepped inside a barn, wonderful whiffs of sheep in a bed of hay. Wool is so very much a product of human animal relations, being the result of centuries of human-animal co-evolution and the knowledge and craftsmanship that naturally weaved itself with time. Notwithstanding, if I am to write about wool within the corpus of human animal relations, I feel impelled to begin by casting on justifications: for example, in case it might have slipped some minds, wool is the fibre of sheep, alpacas, angoras and so on, and may include, depending on one’s leanings, a wider range of mammal furs and hairs (although if you ask some, wool should only designate sheep fibre). Perhaps this need I feel to re-root wool to the animals on which it grew comes from the realization that our contemporary life is saturated with a plethora of objects, the paths of which are mostly unwritten. As for the fibres that surround us, cloth us […]
Anima, le dernier roman de Wajdi Mouawad sorti en 2012, est un récit tragique sur notre rapport au monde et s’inscrit à point dans un climat politique et environnemental en crise. Dans ce roman, Wajdi Mouawad pose une question ontologique urgente: quel rapport entretenons-nous au monde et aux autres? Il ne s’agit donc pas d’une question existentialiste, sur le début et la fin de la vie, mais celle, phénoménologique et moins anthropocentrique du comment décidons-nous d’habiter notre espace, là, au milieu de tout ce fracas? Anima retrace les trajectoires destructrices de corps vivants incapables de syntoniser leurs échanges. Mais c’est dans une prose poétique que Wajdi Mouawad parvient à faire état du chaos tout en donnant à penser qu’il est possible de renaître de ses cendres et qu’un autre type de vie est possible. Il s’agirait alors d’adopter une ontologie hybride et ainsi vivre sur le mode d’une involution par laquelle les corps se co-créent au travers des perceptions, des émotions et des sensations (Lorimer 2015). L’histoire de ce roman nous plonge dans le voyage hors sentier de Wahhch, un homme d’origine libanaise exilé à Montréal, dont le cours de vie doit franchir un point de rupture. Il retrouve un jour chez lui […]
In Japan, food scientists working in the highly competitive sushi-restaurant industry have for years been searching for ways to attract customers and enhance people’s dining experiences. Recently, a promising method has been to alter the taste and smell of fish used in traditional sushi dishes, which can be achieved by mixing special ingredients into fish feed. For example, the yellowtail and halibut sushis pictured above have a distinct citrus flavour; this is because of a limonene build-up in the fishes’ organs and fatty tissues, itself the result of precise amounts of citrus (from fruits like oranges, lemons or the japanese kabosu fruit) having been regularly added to the fishes’ diet as they matured in their aquaculture pens. “Altered” fish products and dishes are catching on in Japan, spurring the food industry to test different types of feed in order to create new, distinct sushi flavours.. So far, many citrus fruits local to japan have been tested, as have several herbs, and even strawberries! Impetuses from business have transformed the eating habits of sushi-goers in other ways too: up until 30 years ago, salmon was scarcely used as a sushi topping in Japan because of peoples’ general aversion to its taste, […]
“Vous, qui aspirez à la Métamorphose Singulière que seul GenTrip’ peut vous procurer, devez intégrer cette unique vérité: tout – et nous voulons bien signifier TOUT ici – n’est que lien. Les connaissances que vous devez intégrer ne signifient quelque chose que dans l’exacte mesure oú elles dépendant exclusivement des rapports, des relations, bref des liens entre ce que l’on appelait jadis des «faits» ou des «évènements». La mémoire des «faits» ou des «évènements» ne vous sera d’aucun secours après votre initiation, si tant est que vous passiez avec succès l’épreuve initiatique. Seuls doivent subsister dans votre conscience augmentée les passages entre ces supposées faits et évènements.” (Bardini & Lestel, 2010:18) Bruno Latour’s networks and modes of existence (2005, 2013), Tim Ingold’s meshwork (2011), Philippe Descola’s ontologies (2005), Deleuze & Guattari’s rizhome (1980). What I take from these various concepts is the core of relational thinking: we are only ever together. Or, as Donna Haraway has said it: in When Species Meet (2008), we have never been human. In fact, “[t]o be one is always to become with many” (Haraway, 2008:4). This leads us to the concept of symbiosis or, simply, being together. This biological concept specifically refers to “long-term […]
The greatly valued delicacy called the “edible-nest”, found in a number of Asian countries comes from few specific types of birds, and is picked from the habitat of only certain species of Swiftlets. Those special swiftlets all belong to the Collocaliini tribe of the Apodidae (Swift) family. What makes this particular type of nest edible and legendary is its unique natural component: the solidified saliva of the male swiftlet. It is common for people to confuse a swiftlet with a swift. It is likewise easy to confuse, amid the different swiftlet birds, the particular species that are producing those edible-nests. A high number of exported nests are located in Indonesia and Malaysia. Furthermore, since those two countries are composed of countless islands, it is important to clearly be able to point on a map the exact location of both natural and man-made habitats where the nests are collected. For these reasons, I thought relevant to make an article dedicated to the etymology and the mapping of all harvested edible-nests. Sources: created using information collected from various documents mentioned in the bibliography. Distinction between the Swifts and Swiftlets The Swift birds (Apodidae) are […]
The tropical heavens of South Asia attract people for their paradisiac sand beaches, crystal clear waters, palm trees and fresh exotic fruits. Others are drawn to South Asia’s alternativism to Western Culture, which includes the local cuisines and traditional medicines. Various renowned local foods may be perceived as ‘bizarre’ if compared to common Western gastronomies. Examples of this are cuisines that use insects, strong spices, atypical culinary recipes, or meat from animals that are not considered edible in most Western countries. Among these is a common delicacy that is found in several Asian countries called the “edible-nest”. It is harvested from the habitat of certain species of the Swiftlet birds, which all belong to the Collocaliini tribe of the Apodidae (Swift) family. What makes this particular type of nest edible and legendary is its unique natural component: the solidified saliva of the male swiftlet that is considered nutritious—containing countless health benefits. These wonderful health benefits are part of ancestral beliefs and have not yet been supported by reliable scientific researches. Sources: created using information collected from various documents mentioned in the bibliography. The nests are often found in white […]
It was July 2015 when I dived into the laboratory for the first time. Since then, I have started to learn the craft of cell culture, I have pursued experimental protocols, I engaged in empirical search, I was co-domesticated with numerous technologies. I am searching for a grip on the other forms of life with whom I dwell in this basement near the Rideau Canal. I wonder which status the cells take on when we isolate them from their organism of origin and cultivate them in laboratory. I wonder how human beings were able to manage this isolation of what is considered to be the structural and functional unity of life. I wonder how we conceptualize other forms of life when our relation is weakened by a complexity of the intermediaries who are necessary for the preservation of said relation. And what emerges when we form a relation with cultivated cells beyond traditional scientific inquiry? To reiterate, I became an anthropologist in residence. During the last months, I have focused on the apprehension of the practices of cell culture which are now widely spread in the laboratories that explore the life sciences. I wanted to understand what particularizes the functioning […]
Historically, there is a sense that humans and wild elephants have been able to coexist in relative peace whenever and wherever they’ve shared a common space. However in recent decades, human/elephant relations have gravitated towards conflict. On the one hand, elephant numbers are dropping precipitously in most parts of the world due to general habitat loss and systematic poaching and culling by humans. On the other hand, incidences of elephants attacking humans are on the rise. In Africa and in Asia, elephants are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people every year; while some of these attacks are the immediate results of a human provocation, others appear to be random. In a few cases, elephants seem to have even gone out of their way to destroy human settlements, leading some villages in Africa to build anti-elephant barriers such as fences or dry motes to try to keep the rampaging pachyderms at bay. These violent behaviours, by humans and elephants, are quantified by researchers in accordance to a Human-Elephant-Conflict (HEC) spectrum that has recently been established. Up until recently, combative behaviours by wild elephants towards humans have been mainly attributed to the fierce competition with people for land and ressources, and to high testosterone levels found in “newly matured males” which heightens their propensity for […]
«Ranthambore National Park is one of the biggest and most renowned national park in Northern India. The park is located in the Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, which is about 130 km from Jaipur. Being considered as one of the famous and former hunting grounds of the Maharajas of Jaipur, today the Ranthambore National Park terrain is major wildlife tourist attraction spot that has pulled the attention of many wildlife photographers and lovers in this destination. Ranthambore National park is spread over an area of 392 sq km. along with its nearby sanctuaries like – the Mansingh Sanctuary and the Kaila Devi Sanctuary.The park is majorly famous for its tigers and is one of the best locations in India to see the majestic predators in its natural habitat. The tigers can be easily spotted even during the day time busy at their ordinary quest- hunting and taking proper care of their young ones. Ranthambore is also counted as the famous heritage site because of the pictorial ruins that dot the wildlife park. Certainly, a visit to Ranthambore National Park is a treat for every wildlife and nature lover. The time spend on watching tigers roaming around, verdant greenery, a […]
Artecraft, Septembre 2015 The 3D printer has been out of order for about 10 days now. I found when I stepped in the main lab early on a Tuesday morning, September 8th. The whole printing piece was taken apart. Fan and extruder were lying on the printer bed. I failed to capture it in pixels, but there lay the 3D printer. Members of the Pelling Lab worked hard at it for a week. We had hope when a piece printed, but the next day yielded no better. Thankfully, the University of Ottawa is full of resources. The 3D printer is in the hands of engineers over at the MakerSpace. A researcher can never be taken out of its context: as a student starting my masters’ seminars this Fall, this imposed break has given me time to get accustomed to a new routine whilst visiting my cells twice a week. Interestingly, I find myself more and more emotionally attached to these little living guys. Visiting them twice a week feels like taking care of a pet: making sure they have enough energy to thrive and that they’re comfortable in their environment. Every time I approach the microscope, and I feel my […]
Le nombre exact d’animaux tués sur les routes est difficile à cerner. La plupart du temps, les nombres de mortalités animales ne représentent que le nombre d’incidents reportés. Ces nombres, qui varient par ville, province, état ou pays excluent bon nombre d’animaux tués, mais jamais reportés. Dans certains cas, les animaux heurtés qui ne succombent qu’à leurs blessures après la collision et loin de la route ne se verront jamais ajoutés aux tableaux de statistiques tout comme les animaux qui sont retirés de la route par les avides consommateurs de la viande de bas-côté, animaux comme humains. Ces facteurs contribuent à la difficulté d’obtenir un nombre définitif de morts. La mortalité routière de la faune affecte tous les groupes taxonomiques et est souvent associée au niveau de densité de circulation de véhicules. (Nuria, 2012) Dans son article Rise in Roadkill Requires New Solutions (2013), la revue Scientific American reporte, par le biais de la documentation de compagnies d’assurances, qu’entre 1 et 2 millions animaux meurent sur les routes américaines chaque année. Tandis que selon High Country News, reportant sur les statistiques combinées du Département fédéral du Transport et de l’administration routière des États-Unis et de l’Humane Society des États-Unis, 253 […]
My two last trial runs ended up here: First came the squares. Before even attempting imaging, Dan – a PhD student in the Pelling Lab who has been guiding me on this project – told me the squares wouldn’t work for the imaging. Another problem was that cells had seemingly fallen from the square onto the petri dish: seeding time of an hour did not seem to be enough. My next try was to make circles that would fit snuggly in the bottom of a 35mm petri dish. Came and went many sizes of circles in Sketch Up and later on the bed of the 3D printer. I settle for the size that fit the tightest in my 35mm dish. My goal was to prevent the cells from falling off. During printing, the wood filament gave me some problems. It seems to be prone to dry extrusion, especially when there are too many items in a single build. I’ve adapted my practices around this problem and print less items at a time. After managing the prints and struggling with the printer, I ended up with 3 34.5mm wooden circles that I attached at the bottom of the petri dishes with […]
The Pelling Lab is one of creative exploration. My current project is to try and grow my C2C12 cells on 3D printed wood. Today, my cells reached their 19th passage (averaging at one or two a week since they came into my care on July 9th). It is in the basement lab that I am getting familiar with maker and hacker logics. With an initial proposed patent in 1980 and the first patent handed out to Charles Hull in 1986, 3D printing has been around for a while (3D Printing Industry). Initially used for prototyping purposes in the industries, 3D printers are becoming more and more of a consumer tool. In 2004, the first open source self-replicating 3D printer had been designed. By 2007, a 3D printer under 10 000$ appeared on the market. Now-a-days, 3D printers are available for consumers under 1000$ (3D Printing Industry). The machine we have in the lab is the MakerBot Replicator 2. A desktop 3D printer, it has 100-micron layer resolution for smooth surfaces, 410 cubic inches of printing space for whole projects, an easy-to-use menu and is built for speed (MakerBot). It works by extrusion of the thermoplastic. The filament (usually PLA or […]
Macdonald Hall is the building on campus hosting the University of Ottawa’s physics department. It is down a set of stairs, in the basement, that resides the Center for Interdisciplinary Nanophysics: a state-of-the-art research facility renovated in 2011 (Biological Physics, 2012). A large door marks the entrance and has to be electronically unlocked to access the facilities. As you pass the door, a long hallway stretches on: shoes rest on your right, under coat hooks. Surrounded by key locked doors, a dozen at most, I make my way to the cell culture room. I began my adventure here, in the cell culture room of the Pelling Laboratory for Biophysical Manipulation (www.pellinglab.net). It is led by curiosity that physicists, biologists, engineers and artists explore possible physical manipulation and re-purposing of life. I thank them for allowing me to share their passion by spending time in the lab and for teaching me the ways of biophysical research. Unfrozen into existence, it is inside a round 10cm petri dish that my C2C12 started growing. They arrived to me after their 10th passage: this means they had been split 10 times from the initial cell line. It is quite youthful, I have been told. […]
Photographs by Christian Ziegler WHAT IS HAL? HAL is short for HumAnimaLab or Human-Animal-Laboratory. And it’s a research group that aims to identify both legal and illegal wildlife trading networks at local and global scales. At the moment, HAL is curious about many things, such as the identity and relationships between network actors, the nature of capital flows which stem from the trade, the various steps in the extraction and transformation processes, and more. WHY DOES HAL EXIST? Wildlife trading is a growing phenomenon, but its under-workings and scale, among other things, remain unclear. By detailing its nature and scope, HAL can contribute to bring attention to the phenomenon and may also inform the action of policy makers and other engaged actors who seek to curb or better regulate the trade. HOW DOES HAL WORK? The group attempts to better understand the wildlife trade by tackling it from different angles. Original projects that are focused on the trade are undertaken by contributors with backgrounds in various fields (including anthropology, environmental science, psychology, international development, etc.). Research themes are multidisciplinary and utilize the ethnographic method. Works are posted to the HumAnimaLab website where they combine with existing published academic research, news […]
Photographs by Brent Stirton WHAT IS WILDLIFE? The term “wildlife” refers to all fauna and flora. “Fauna” comprises all animals such as mammals, reptiles, birds and fish, while “flora” includes plants such as orchids and trees. WHAT IS THE WILDLIFE TRADE? For centuries, animal and plant life has been the object of trade by humans. Today, the trading takes place on a global scale, and is commonly divided into two categories. First, the legal wildlife trade refers to the commerce or harvesting of species as regulated by government entities. Ideally, this is a trade that is mindful of conservation concerns in the sense that quotas can be established, serving to minimize the risks of over-exploitation. Second, the illegal wildlife trade involves the unregulated and often unsustainable trafficking of species and/or their by-products; species are poached from their natural habitats and smuggled to buyers by way of lucrative clandestine networks. WHAT IS THE DEMAND? The wildlife trade is consumer-driven. Indeed, as demand for wildlife products rises, so does the magnitude of illegal trafficking. Products include live species or their derivatives, which can end up as foods, ornaments, construction materials, medicinal ingredients, etc. According to Wyatt (Wildlife Trafficking, 2013), demand is most […]
“When walking through a herd – which comprises many bands of monkeys grazing together in groups of 600 to 700 individuals – the wolves seem to take care to behave in a non-threatening way. They move slowly and calmly as they forage for rodents and avoid the zigzag running they use elsewhere, Venkataraman observed”. Source Guassa National Park +
“There now appears to be a plausible pathway for reviving species that have been extinct for several decades, centuries, or even millennia. I conducted an ethical analysis of de-extinction of long extinct species. I assessed several possible ethical considerations in favor of pursuing de-extinction: that it is a matter of justice; that it would reestablish lost value; that it would create new value; and that society needs it as a conservation last resort. I also assessed several possible ethical arguments against pursuing de-extinction: that it is unnatural; that it could cause animal suffering; that it could be ecologically problematic or detrimental to human health; and that it is hubristic.” SANDLER-2014-Conservation_Biology
” For decades, horse and camel caravans have gathered in Sudan at the beginning of the dry season, when the rivers can be forded, and then crossed into the Central African Republic. Traditionally, poachers carried only swords and lances, but beginning in the early nineteen-seventies, as Sudan and Chad were consumed by civil wars, they gained access to automatic weapons.” The Elephant Watcher – The New Yorker
“Based on interviews and investigative cases, this paper shows the possibilities offered by a crime script approach for understanding what kind of criminal opportunities the Internet offers for conducting wildlife trafficking and how these opportunities affect the organization of this transit crime, as concerns both the carrying out of the criminal activity and the patterns of relations in and among criminal networks. It highlights how Internet-mediated wildlife trafficking is a hybrid market that combines the traditional social and economic opportunity structure with that provided by the Internet.” Wildlife Trafficking in the Internet Age_Anita Lavorgna_2014_PDF
“En janvier 2014, le Dallas Safari Club avait été vivement condamné pour la vente d’un permis de tirer sur un rhinocéros noir de Namibie, qui avait été remportée par Corey Knowlton, chasseur texan et “personnalité” de télé-réalité, à raison d’une enchère s’élevant à 350 000 dollars.” Source +
“The gut microbiome is a vast ecosystem of organisms such as bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans that live in our digestive pipes, which collectively weigh up to 2kg (heavier than the average brain). It is increasingly treated by scientists as an organ in its own right. Each gut contains about 100tn bacteria, many of which are vital, breaking down food and toxins, making vitamins and training our immune systems.” From The Guardian.
Elephants being captured in Zimbabwe for Chinese zoos: “First, a viable herd is identified. Then operatives in a helicopter pick off the younger elephants with a sedative fired from a rifle. As the elephant collapses, the pilot dive-bombs the immediate vicinity so the rest of the herd, attempting to come to the aid of the fallen animal, are kept at bay. When things quieten down, a ground-team approaches the sedated elephants on foot, bundles them up, and drags them on to trailers.”