Assembling Animal Communication

Curated by Dr. Kevin Chua
Landmark Gallery 
March 18 - April 22, 2019


Above: Catherine Chalmers, Adoration of the Golden Ant, 2017, pigment print, 40 x 80 inches.

For much of the 20th century, scholars considered language to be what defined the human. In screech and roar, animals couldn't match the complexity – the sheer sophistication – of human language. This exhibition proposes to think of animal language in a different way: what if it didn't aspire to human grammar and syntax? What if it didn't simply occur within, but co-evolved with, an environment? When Deleuze and Guattari used the word "ritournelle" (refrain) to describe bird songs, they weren't simply referring to the mundanely repetitious nature of bird language. Animal communication, they envisioned, took place in an emergent environmental field that moved in deep, molecular rhythm. Another term they used, "assemblage" – think of a bee swarm, moving with the wind, or a flock of birds, flying in loose unison – captures this more dynamic understanding of the way animals communicate with one another. Speech as environmental resonance; utterance cradled by context. Look closer. Listen. Enter the assemblage of animal communication.

Artists in the exhibition include: Catherine ChalmersCatherine CloverDarcie DeAngeloLee Deigaard, and Maria Lux.

View the exhibition brochure [HERE]. 

The exhibition coincided with an international, interdisciplinary conference entitled,  Animal/Language organized by Dr. John Beusterien (Spanish), Dr. Belinda Kleinhans (German), Dr. Katy Schroeder (Animal & Food Sciences), Dr. Lucas Wood (French), Dr. Pamela Zinn (Classics), and sponsored by the Humanities Center.