By R. Malamud
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Extra info for An Introduction to Animals and Visual Culture
The jellyfish fluctuates. (How interesting – what is that like? Like a chameleon changing colors? Like a tadpole or caterpillar transforming into a frog or butterfly? ) Moore visualizes the jellyfish as a charm, which is compelling: I want a charm! What does it charm? How? What magical powers may lurk in this charm? She gives us a glimmer of color, melded colors (amber and amethyst), colors that evoke minerals, jewels, value. Again: I want this! Hence, my arm approaches. I draw near. I want to touch, to take, to own.
Oolong, a rabbit, exemplifies the new electronic version of fetishizing the animal form. indd 33 4/4/2012 11:00:06 AM 34 An Introduction to Animals and Visual Culture irrelevantly, named after a variety of tea. Laika, Balto, Oolong, and others are all names imposed upon animals by people, wholly meaningless to the animal subjects. I use these names as a necessary convenience, though they are simply one more layer of disguise for these animals, who are so enmeshed in human culture and language that their real identities are virtually inaccessible.
In the age of mechanical reproduction, people reproduce animals a great deal. This may be regarded as an abrogation of the animals’ fecundity, especially with regard to rabbits, whose reproductive prowess is a central aspect of their cultural reputation. Oolong’s fame, then, embodies a kind of semiotic theft. What often happens when people engage animals is that we identify, and then steal, their spirits – their authenticity, their traits, their very animality. indd 34 4/4/2012 11:00:06 AM Famous Animals 35 Figure 3 “I have no idea what you’re talking about ...
An Introduction to Animals and Visual Culture by R. Malamud