Tag Archives: Jan Harrison

Sound Bites

The power of the Internet has been bringing us in touch with some wonderful artists and critical thinkers, hence we’ve been a little quiet this past week, immersing ourselves in what the ether allows us: to enjoy and savour creative works from around the world and to connect with like minds.

Jan Harrison is one such mind; an American artist whose work has been shown in over one hundred exhibitions, throughout the United States, and in Canada, Australia, and Europe. Harrison creates art having to do with the animal nature, using pastel, charcoal, ink, encaustic, and other materials for paintings, sculpture, and installation art. However, the thing that caught our eye was video footage of her performance art in which she speaks and sings in her own language: Animal Tongues.

What of language? And animal language, at that?

What of sound?

We’ve been looking at barriers and connections, especially in our last post: Worlds Apart or Worlds Together, in which we looked at how close the Internet brings us all, yet how far away we actually are. Harrison, for example, has produced a video that I can watch at any time and from the comfort of my own home. I feel like I am watching the performance, but I am not watching in real time.

The interesting thing about this is, some people played it and their animals heard it. They not only heard it, but they responded too.

Try it and let us know how you get on.

Artist Jimmy Guthrie decorated the back of the eyes of a sculpted fox’s head for this, The Sneezing Pandas Project, which we made in to a short video. Here, we see Harrison create an animal head out of porcelain and beeswax. This is the medium she chooses to speak through in her Animal Tongues.

How do you find it?

It certainly seemed popular amongst other species.

We came across another video this week of a very different kind.

This is a YouTube video that has inspired a fan club for Pancake the cat. Sweetfurx4, who uploaded the footage, describes it as a “meowsic video” for other cats, and like Harrison’s work the sound seems to have genuinely spoken to some of them:

LOL, my cat went from sound asleep to wide awake and full alert when this video started.
– alyxacp

Technology has not only allowed us to see and share animal imagery and video around the world, but animals themselves can be touched by this. Where we can’t communicate with other species, perhaps art finds another way. Perhaps art finds a deeper connection in our own animal selves, as Harrison talks about in her Artist Statement.

Rather than passers by of novelty communications, perhaps sound and technology truly communicates one species with another.

Perhaps we are one of those species.

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