The Covenant of the Wild by Stephen Budiansky is a book both Katherine and Natalie have read and enjoyed. It leads us to Viral Pandas ideas around domestication and appeal.
What draws us to certain animals over others?
What is it that attracts us most?
Budiansky describes the climatic and environmental changes that set the stage for domestication. He provides evidence that domestication, like the development of agriculture, was a gradual process and not a revolutionary idea. He also describes the mechanisms by which domestication may have taken place, centering on the phenomenon of neoteny (or juvenilisation). This is a characteristic of domesticated animals where juvenile traits, like docility, are sustained in to the adult life of the animal [Source].
Physical features play a part in juvenilisation and pugs are a classic example – incredibly popular for their large, wide eyes; small size, and look of vulnerability, they can often inspire mothering instincts from human owners. In the same way, human adult features like a small nose and jaw, a hairless body and face, larger eyes, and a flattened, broader face are all considered neotenous, inspiring the same instincts.
We decided it might be interesting to domesticate a clay head.
Because Katherine‘s teaching methods are demonstration based, she often has unfinished portrait heads in her studio, and so she sets to work with this one, shown here in its original form.
There are two of these heads, which will be used, as part of The Sneezing Pandas Project to explore domestication and wild; perhaps attraction and repulsion at the same time.