Tag: Fake-nature

Anthropomorphobia

Anthropomorphobia

Are you familiar with the affliction? Anthropomorphobia is the fear of recognizing human characteristics in non-human objects. The term is a hybrid of two Greek-derived words: ‘anthropomorphic’ means ‘of human form’ and ‘phobia’ means ‘fear’. Although anthropomorphobia was originally rare, with complaints limiting themselves to fairs and amusement parks with moving dummies that laughed at visitors, the blurring boundary between people and products is leading to increased problems. Complaints can be accompanied by irrational panic attacks, disdain, revulsion, and confusion about what it means to be human. Will anthropomorphobia eventually become public disease number one? Or can anthropomorphobia serve as a guiding principle in the evolution of humanity? Herewith, an exploration.

By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT

Exploring the Twilight between Person and Product

Luxury cars with blinking headlight eyes. Perfume bottles shaped like beautiful ladies. Grandma’s face stretched smooth. Carefully selected designer babies. The Senseo coffeemaker shaped – subtly, but nonetheless – like a serving butler. And, of course, there are the robots, mowing grass, vacuuming living rooms, and even caring for elderly people with dementia. Today more and more products are designed to exhibit anthropomorphic – that is, human – behaviour. At the same time, as a consequence of increasing technological capabilities, people are being more and more radically cultivated and turned into products. This essay will investigate the blurring of the boundary between people and products. My ultimate argument will be that we can use our relationship to anthropomorphobia as a guiding principle in our future evolution.

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Fake-nature

Mastering Bambi

In the film Mastering Bambi, artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs have stripped the landscape of its cuddly, anthropomorphic characters. Over the course of the film, the camera pans across empty forest scenes and winter fields, accompanied by a chorus and orchestra. Using 3D photographic collages, the artists reconstruct elements of the backgrounds from the classic Disney film, which presented an unrealistically idyllic vision of nature.  According to Broersen and Lukacs:

“…an important but often overlooked protagonist in the movie is nature itself: the pristine wilderness as the main grid on which Disney structured his ‘Bambi’. One of the first virtual worlds was created here: a world of deceptive realism and harmony, in which man is the only enemy.”

Does Mastering Bambi imply that the audience has finally mastered nature by eliminating all its inhabitants? It may be a more stark comment on the destructive capacity of humanity than Disney’s decision to kill off Bambi’s mom. Once the harmonious woodland inhabitants are gone, we are left to uncomfortably wonder if we are their only replacements.

Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs will be presenting Mastering Bambi at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.

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Fake-for-Real

Occasionally Extinct and Virtually Alive

Japanese researchers are currently working on cloning a mammoth, and plan to produce a fluffy new prehistoric calf within four or five years. The bucardo, an extinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, was resurrected for a few minutes in 2009 before the clone died. ‘Frozen zoos’ now keep the cryo-preserved tissues from dozens of endangered species to hedge their bets against future extinction.

Until we have the godlike knowledge to reconstruct a genome from the base pairs on up, our resurrected zoo will be limited to the animals that we have stored away for safe keeping. Sorry, no dinosaurs, but there are at least 500 stuffed and dried passenger pigeons, 731 thylacines, and one remaining dodo specimen with soft tissue remaining.

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Fake-for-Real

A Rare Giant Crane in Manhattan

In this Petcha Kutcha presentation, Mike Dickison comes to a very funny conclusion: Although Big Bird might superficially resemble other ratites like the ostrich or emu, he is likely more closely related to a group of extinct, flightless cranes that once lived in Cuba and Bermuda. Birds tend to evolve towards flightlessness and gigantism when isolated on islands and, fittingly, Big Bird lives on the most famous island in the world.

Watch: What if Anything is Bird Big

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Biomimicmarketing

Who Owns the Rights to a Toucan?

Kellogg, the proud copyright holders of Toucan Sam, recently asked a the Mayan Archeology Initiative to reconsider their logo. Despite the fact that the two birds have entirely different colors, shapes, and expressions, Kellogg’s lawyers insist that they have a special claim to family Ramphastidae.

It’s particularly strange that the corporation would go after a Guatemalan non-profit when dozens of other companies have used toucans in their branding. Neither does Kellogg have time on their side: they registered Toucan Sam in 1963, while Guinness began using its iconic toucan in 1935. While the Kellogg lawsuit is frivolous, it does raise some questions about the commodification of natural images. When do animals become so wrapped up in a corporate identity that they loose their own?

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Fake-for-Real

Holland Gets an Unnatural High

When the Dutch built the Netherlands, they forgot to add any mountains. The highest point in Holland is a measly 323 meters, compared to 2,962 meters for the highest mountain in Germany. Possibly inspired by architect Jacok Tigges’ proposal for Berlin, Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld recently suggested that the Netherlands deserves a fake mountain of its own. Unlike Tigges’ purely theoretical proposal, the people behind Die Berg Komt Er (video) (The Mountain Is Coming) are taking their landscape-building mandate seriously. The mountain has turned into a movement.

Different designers have different visions for this god-like task. DHV situates their Bergen in Zee, an exact replica of Mount Fuji, in the ocean near the town of Bergen aan Zee. It would rise 2,000 meters, occupy an area the size of Disney World, and provide sustainable power for the mainland. Hoffers and Kruger place it in the land or the sea, and fill up their hollow structure with everything from aquariums to sport arenas to farms. Regardless of the particulars, the Nederlandse Berg would be the biggest and costliest manmade structure in history. If the mountain is actually realized, it will certainly prove one thing: The Dutch will let nothing stand in the way of a nice weekend of skiing.

Via Pruned.

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Fake-nature

Animals Made from Other Animals

That’s no reindeer, and it’s certainly no moose. It’s an Irish Elk, Megaloceros giganteous, a deer that happens to be neither an elk, nor really all that Irish. What it does happen to be, though, is long extinct. Renowned taxidermist Ken Walker has reconstructed Megaloceros from the tanned hides of once-living Canadian deer.

The mount is made of elk skins stretched over a custom foam form, and fitted out with a pair of fiberglass antlers. Using Paleolithic art as a guide, Walker also gave the giant deer a prominent shoulder hump with contrasting coloration. Walker’s prowess with taxidermic reconstruction isn’t just limited to extinct animals. He has also won awards for Thing Thing, a panda made from the dyed fur of other bears.

Taxidermic reconstruction occupies a particularly strange area within the already weird world of taxidermy. It uses the parts of recently deceased (but still extant) animals to create a scientifically accurate fantasia of an animal too rare to kill, or so long gone that no modern human has seen one alive. In other words, it’s fake nature at its most realistic.

Information via Still Life.  Image via Taxidermy.net

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Biomimicmarketing

Bottle Plant

The Coca-Cola introduces the PlantBottle. Partially made of plants, this bottle is 100% recyclable. Next step will be a natural bottle fully growing on a plant. In the meanwhile, I am still waiting for my Organic Coke.

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Fake-nature

Morphotheque #15

Unsatisfied with the variety of vegetables in your local Supermarket? Why not try the Art Gallery? Morphotheque #15 (2011) is a form collection that consists of 27 elements, 1:1 copies of peppers. They’re made out of plaster and finished with acrylic paint. Peculiar image of the week by Erwin Driessen & Maria Verstappen.

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Fake-for-Real

Inventing an Extinct Horse

Along with the Heck cattle and Scottish Highlanders, another reconstructed species roams the Dutch dunes. The sturdy Konik horse, also known as the Polish primitive, is the result of an attempt to ‘breed back’ the tarpan, an extinct subspecies of wild horse. A forest-dwelling horse with a distinctive silver-gray coat, tarpans once roamed Western Europe through Russia. The endangered Przewalski’s horse is the only surviving subspecies of the wild horse, Equus ferus, found only in zoos and in wild herds that have been reintroduced to places like Mongolia and Chernobyl.

The last wild tarpans were extirpated between the 1820s and 1890s, while the last captive tarpans died out somewhere between 1910 and 1920. Sources are unclear whether the final herds were true tarpans, tarpan mixes, or domestic horses that happened to look a lot like their wild relatives. It may be extinct, but the tarpan still clings to existence via cultural memory and scattered genes. The fact that many “primitive” breeds of domestic horse still graze the world’s meadows has tempted hopeful breeders to resurrect the tarpan on at least three occasions.

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