Cornelia stoop

Baboons

The astronaut's tail

A baboon is depicted sitting on the backpack of an astronaut.

The astronaut is a traveler; she embodies humanities aspiration to be an interplanetary species. The girl is unrecognizable in the astronaut suit. The suit limits the wearer’s senses, and ease of mobility.

In ancient Egypt, baboons were revered animals, associated with the deity Thoth. They were often portrayed in Egyptian tombs symbolizing sacredness, fairness, preservation and reanimation. Today baboons are often viewed as pests however they have been able to persist and adapt to the massive change we brought to their environment. They seem uninhibited and instinctive.  In contrast to the alienated human astronaut the baboon is free, and sits nimbly on its perch.

The baboon reminds us of our shared biological inheritance, and a spontaneous, intuitive nature that persists.

Rock, paper, scissors

A baboon and an astronaut are playing the game of rock, paper scissors. This non cooperative game has been used in game theory to illustrate how adjusted strategies can lead to better outcomes for the majority of players involved. Game theory aims to avoid among other things the “tragedy of the commons” where many individual incremental advances amass to the detriment of the whole.

Baboon human interaction is likened to a non cooperative game, albeit with serious real life consequences for the parties involved. Loss of life and suitable habitat is often experienced by baboons. On the other hand the loss of baboons; especially within the biodiverse ecosystems which baboons help maintain; is a loss for humanity. We suffered huge losses in natural capital, and will continue to impoverish ourselves if we do not adapt to mitigate the negative impacts we effect on the environment. It is imperative that we rethink our game plan towards wild species that we deem inconvenient.

Look, see!

Dualism a concept championed by Descartes, maintains that thought and consciousness is a phenomena separate from the body. This philosophy is still commonly held today. Animals are merely seen as complex machines without consciousness.

Contemporary neuroscience explores how the anatomical, material properties of the brain itself give rise to what we perceive as consciousness. It is postulated that our conscious selves arise because of, and not in spite of Descartes’ “beast machine”1. Much of our physiology is shared with other animals. All living creatures have a shared experience of life.

The artwork depicts an invitation to contemplate our place as a species in the universe. It begs for the recognition of the brilliance of other species within the ecologies that surrounds and permeates us.

Baboons waltz

The sculpture depicts a somewhat awkward dance between a girl and a baboon.

We have severed ourselves from nature by denying that material properties of the brain itself give rise to what we perceive as consciousness. We are now engaged in an awkward dance with the contemplation of our evolutionary origins.

Contemporary neuroscience explores how the anatomical, material properties of the brain itself give rise to what we perceive as consciousness. It is postulated that our conscious selves arise because of, and not in spite of Descartes’ “beast machine”1. Much of our physiology is shared with other animals. Through this lens we can regain a sense of oneness with life around us.

  1. The royal institution.2017, Feb1. The neuroscience of consciousness- Anil Seth. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRel1JKOEbI