Funny Animals

9-10 January 2020 // Perception and Narrative
Hugo Almeida, Ana Matilde Sousa, Aidan Koch, Daniela Pinto, Pedro Moura

This seminar takes the concept of “funny animals”—the anthropomorphic animal characters originating in comics and cartoons—as a starting point for participants to explore a wide variety of “character” representations. From the onset of mass culture, advertising, cartoons and comics have used anthropomorphic animals to both domesticate the unfamiliar and unfamiliarize the domestic. Today, cute mascots and LOLcat memes populate the commodity- and media-spheres, alongside daily social media testimonies of animal intelligences and their interactions with humans or among themselves. But representation in the third person inevitably raises the question of what belongs to the represented and what is a projection of the representer. In the face of a Sixth Great Extinction, how does our obsession with animal characters impact who gets to survive, on individual and populational levels? How can nonhumans be interpreted in “their own terms” or made to “speak” in interspecies dialogues? Recognizing the presence of nonhumans in peoples’ imaginaries as sites of both sentimental investment and radical strangeness might hold the key to a participatory and inclusive trans-species project.

This seminar will combine a theoretical part with workshop-like activities in which participants will be writing/drawing creatively together. The activities will accommodate different creative comfort levels and participants with a variety of backgrounds, focusing on how to develop or represent non-human characters.