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totally unpremeditated and perfectly sincere
November 12, 2012 6:13 PM   Subscribe

More Than Human: Tim Flach's intimate photographs of animal gestures and expressions seem more than a little familiar.

"These photographs … are far removed from wildlife photography’s documentary images of animals observed in their natural habitat. In fact, the treatment accorded to these particular creatures is not dissimilar from the close encounters with individuals that are the stuff of human portraiture. Although drawn from different animal species, Tim Flach brings his subjects into such close focus that we begin to read their poses and gestures as we would the body language of a human figure, face or hand."

More Than Human compiles seven years of Tim Flach's quirky, unique and strangely profound animal photographs. More images. Previously.
posted by changeling (45 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tim attempts to demonstrate how close can animal gestures and poses get to those of the humans.

Why? Treating a panda as a prop in order to make it seem human?
posted by R. Mutt at 6:30 PM on November 12, 2012


Some of those photos are quite beautiful. But... was that a plucked chicken? I mean, what the heck was going on there?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:36 PM on November 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've seen my cat look at me the same way the panther looked. Also, I dance like that chicken.
posted by arcticseal at 6:50 PM on November 12, 2012


Why is that chicken naked?

Also, amazing photos.
posted by hippybear at 6:50 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I don't understand the purpose of these. Why is it worth exposing various animals to "temperature changes, light, human presence and even sounds" that the artist has figured out how best to intimidate, or not, various (presumably captive) animals? What does this tell us that pictures of animals engaging in natural behaviors in the wild would not?
posted by ChuraChura at 6:56 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bat on right: *YAWN*
Bat on left: "Phew, vampire breath!"

Gorillas walk like *this*, and chimpanzees walk like *this* - amirite?

George auditioned for the "Blair Witch" movie, but ultimately didn't get the part.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:57 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sum vivens, vita nihil a me alienum puto.

Pretty sure that's some kinda dog-latin (ha) but that's what Google Translate gives me as the variant of the Terence quote that I'm aiming for here... In other words, I don't think it's anthropocentrism, but real recogniton, an indication that we might want to shift the um centrism of our concept of the anthropos.
posted by hap_hazard at 6:58 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh geez, again with the camera...
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:00 PM on November 12, 2012


Wow. Dazzling.
posted by bearwife at 7:05 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


poor lil froggie
posted by leotrotsky at 7:08 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the chicken is a specific kind of chicken bred to thrive in the desert, so it has no need of feathers for insulation.

http://www.crownheights.info/index.php?itemid=38661
posted by starvingartist at 7:10 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the little froggie was great. And on preview, let's hope so on the chicken.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:12 PM on November 12, 2012


Compelling photos, but wholly dependent on humans' ability to anthropomorphize. Many of those expressions may have completely different significance for the animals in question. For instance, what we would interpret as a smile is usually a threat for most monkeys and apes.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:20 PM on November 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


None of the apes are smiling.

I assume that the purpose of these photographs is the same as the purpose of most animal photography. To allow viewers to empathize with the subject. And they do a fantastic job.
posted by bq at 7:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


wholly dependent on humans' ability to anthropomorphize

Shockingly, that's actually the stated purpose of the photos.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


> Gorillas walk like *this*, and chimpanzees walk like *this* - amirite?

Hey now, that's clearly an adorable gibbon! And you'd walk funny on the ground as well, if you had the longest arms (relative to body) of all living apes, and possibly even all extant primates.

They give weird handshakes too.

posted by Panjandrum at 7:41 PM on November 12, 2012


Quirky? I don't see it.
posted by bleep at 7:42 PM on November 12, 2012


> I think the chicken is a specific kind of chicken bred to thrive in the desert...

Never before in my life have I been so glad about research on dinosaurs having feathers. Those things are terrifying.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:45 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


:/ these pictures are great but the last thing we need is more anthropomorphism.
posted by rebent at 8:10 PM on November 12, 2012


Right, I get that this is playing to our awesome abilities to anthropomorphize. Just uncertain if the results - which are really very beautiful pictures (I especially like the millipede!) really tell us anything particularly novel that is worthy of doing whatever made that pig so squinty. Or you know, other things with captive animals.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:12 PM on November 12, 2012


Nice, but the pics make me feel all, idunno, anthropomorphic...
posted by djrock3k at 8:15 PM on November 12, 2012


see that's a huge problem djrock3k. we gotta stop anthropomorphising ourselves and realize that we are just animals who happen to be people too
posted by rebent at 8:17 PM on November 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just find it outrageous that all those chimpanzees I'm smiling at animalmorphize me and think I'm threatening them! How dare they!
posted by hippybear at 8:21 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


so it's basically a treasure trove of future ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS posts?
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 PM on November 12, 2012


These pictures are pretty amazing but dude, it is possible to not turn the contrast slider to 100.
posted by capricorn at 9:02 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's less that these pictures make these kinds of emotions seem human to me, and more that it makes them seem like something that isn't exclusively human. That we share a lot of ways of being with animals.

Like, when I feel totally like that millipede, smelling the ground with my limbs, and undulating. yeah!
posted by wormwood23 at 9:59 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


For instance, what we would interpret as a smile boredom is usually a threat for most monkeys and apes sign that the tiger wants to eat your head.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:09 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like, when I feel totally like that millipede, smelling the ground with my limbs, and undulating. yeah!

I think I had a hit or two of that batch of acid, too!
posted by hippybear at 10:12 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


the last thing we need is more anthropomorphism.

Buncha hand-wringing... Dogs and cats laugh all the time.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:29 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I find this type of picture entertaining on an imageboard, when it is presented as serious composition it kind of irks me. Focusing on the almost-human characteristics the artist is emphasizing seems to ignore the fact that they are complex animals with behaviors we are probably misinterpreting completely. It even seems somewhat condescending to treat them in such a way, snapshots taken out of context and staged for effect.
posted by sophist at 10:31 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The interesting anthropomorphisms are the ones we perpetuate on each other. The ways we project our humanity onto the strangers that are the ones we love.
posted by Three Books at 11:09 PM on November 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"No more anthropomorphisizing!"exclaimed the monkey wearing pants.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:30 AM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never anthropomophize animals. They hate it.
posted by phl at 3:58 AM on November 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ok, so he's promoting a book, yeah, so the copy is trying to entice you into buying it.
For those of you not buying the book... "(...)far removed from wildlife photography’s documentary images of animals observed in their natural habitat." Nope, wrong.

Drunk animals say you're wrong. Especially the monkeys who basically look like us before, during and after a piss up. See the expression at 3:52? No anthropomorphism needed there, just a desperate longing for acetaminophen.
posted by Zack_Replica at 11:18 AM on November 13, 2012


That was what I'm saying rebent. I had 2 cats (just lost the last at 22) but I appreciated their catperspective and how it opposed with my monkeyview. That there _are_ people in there was the gift from having them in my life, people who are, in some deep ways, not like you at all.

And that's real cool.
posted by djrock3k at 1:21 PM on November 13, 2012


ChuraChura: I guess I don't understand the purpose of these. Why is it worth exposing various animals to "temperature changes, light, human presence and even sounds" that the artist has figured out how best to intimidate, or not, various (presumably captive) animals? What does this tell us that pictures of animals engaging in natural behaviors in the wild would not?
Do you actually not get that this is an art project, not a biological study?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:37 PM on November 13, 2012


Hi IAmBroom. While I do understand that it's art, I don't understand why you're so angry. I think art is interesting, and worthy of having serious questions asked about it - art is supposed to expose us to greater truths, yeah? Something more than just cool aesthetics? So what truth do these, admittedly really beatiful pictures, tell us that amazing pictures of amazing animals in the wild does not? I have pictures of my study species doing amazingly human things in a situation where, not only does it seem amazingly human, but it also is amazingly mangabey! I think that's fantastically cooler and tells us a lot more about what it means to be human and what we do share with our close relatives. I think we should respect and be impressed by elephants for their own innate elephantness, not their ability to scrunch their eyes up like people.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:48 PM on November 13, 2012


What is the creature in the photo that's just the back of a head and neck, the one between the naked chicken and the elephant? The more I stare at it, the more I think it might be Gollum's bruiser older brother.
posted by vytae at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2012


(chimpanzee or bonobo without much hair)
posted by ChuraChura at 2:26 PM on November 13, 2012


The naked chicken is an Israeli innovation. In cold weather they need special little chicken sweaters.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:34 PM on November 13, 2012


The apes and chimpanzees are lovely. Each one has a distinct personality that just transcends the photograph.

OTOH, that chicken is disgusting.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2012


Expressive Black and White Portraits of Zoo Animals
posted by homunculus at 12:45 AM on November 14, 2012


ChuraChura: Hi IAmBroom. While I do understand that it's art, I don't understand why you're so angry.
Incredulous, not angry. Type doesn't convey emotion well, unfortunately.
I think art is interesting, and worthy of having serious questions asked about it - art is supposed to expose us to greater truths, yeah? Something more than just cool aesthetics?
Well, if that's your opinion it is. Not everyone agrees. Whole genres of art have been about aesthetics. Navajo pottery, for instance - does it really expose you to a greater truth?
I think we should respect and be impressed by elephants for their own innate elephantness, not their ability to scrunch their eyes up like people.
I think we should each be allowed to love elephants in our own way (assuming that doesn't harm the elephants). Telling someone else how they are supposed to photograph elephants is just weird to me.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2012


Stunning Close-Up Portraits of Wild Animals
posted by homunculus at 7:52 PM on November 26, 2012


Photographer Has His Canon 5D Mark II Kidnapped and Killed by a Lion
posted by homunculus at 2:01 PM on November 27, 2012


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