Feature

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 Animal machines of Les Machines de L'Ile Nantes by Vladimir Gvozdariki
Animal machines of Les Machines de L’Ile Nantes by Vladimir Gvozdariki



The three images seen above are the core section and feature of this website.  Each of these images supports and addresses the website’s theme of Speciesism vs. Anti-speciesism in varying ways.  The first image is  Animal machines of Les Machines de L’Ile Nantes by Vladimir Gvozdariki which illustrates a frog as a machine, not a natural being [1. Neyrat Lecture, 10/9/13.].  As humans, we know that this is not true from a physical standpoint but in theory, the actions and mannerisms of an animal such as a frog can be replicated by a machine. Rene Descartes discusses this idea in his “Letter to More” in 1649.  He goes on to say, “It seems reasonable since art copies nature, and men can make various automata which move without thought, that nature should produce its own automata much more splendid than the artificial ones. These natural automata are the animals.” (Descartes, 1649).  Essentially, he is stating that animals do not have a mind but rather a brain that controls a mechanical function.  Contrast this to the ideas represented in (Bentham, 1823) that states animals show reason, which is a human characteristic. Jeremy Bentham, author of Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, goes on to describe this issue; “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”  This argument contradicts what Descartes described by questioning the idea of animal’s ability to suffer.  Dogs cry and whine when in pain, so are we to believe that this a mechanical function or the ability to suffer being expressed? These arguments directly relate to the image of the frog being represented as a machine and addresses the idea of speciesism and anti-speciesism.

Humiliation by Design by Beth Caverne Strichter
Humiliation by Design by Beth Caverne Strichter


The next image has a direct connection to that of animal suffering. Humiliation by Design [2. http://www.followtheblackrabbit.com/Humiliation.htm.] by Beth Caverne Strichter represents exactly the principles on which Jeremy Bentham wrote his piece on animal’s ability to suffer. The goat sculpture clearly displays pain based on the awkward position of which the body has been tied.  Not only does this image show the suffering of the animal but it also shows the human dominance over them represented by the gear.  This is an image that displays speciesism because of the technological advancement used to disgrace or even humiliate the innocent animal.  It further reinforces the idea of anthropocentrism and the fact that humans are the center of the world while animals are just a meal or of some economic value. Aldo Leopold would completely disagree with this idea of animals as he recalls witnessing a “green fire” leave the eyes of a wolf as it died in his collection of writings.  The death of an animal like this is an ecological catastrophe in his eyes as he believed that humans, animals, and wilderness were equal.

Nature Ape by Mark Tansey
Nature Ape by Mark Tansey


Lastly, the image of Mark Tansey’s Nature Ape [3. Neyrat Lecture, 9/4/13], illustrates another aspect of the debate between speciesism and anti-speciesism. This image specifically puts humans and animals on a similar platform.  The human however, is using the vine to swing across the body of water while the ape is using the technological advancement (the bridge) to its advantage.  Apes are shown as having the ability to use “tools” and the ability to think in this image.  Animals are undervalued in Western civilization and for years no one recognized the basic values and abilities that they had.  This image is a step towards post-anthropocentrism and a step towards removing anti-speciesism from society.  As a result, these images all represent a viewpoint and provide insight on the debate between speciesism and anti-speciesism in today’s society.