From: Kate Distin (email@example.com)
Date: Tue 19 Apr 2005 - 14:46:11 GMT
Vincent Campbell wrote:
> Just dipping into the flow here and happened upon this comment about animal
> I saw a book once- in an otherwise reputable bookshop- that was entirely
> about cat art, in other words art by cats...
> Can't remember the title though.
> Also saw a piece on the local TV news the other day about some kind of
> primate (a monkey, not an ape) that appeared to like to draw on paper- film
> showed it making marks on the paper whilst others of it's group just tried
> to eat the paper.
> A few years ago, I think I recall seeing a programme about those bonobos
> they taught to sign, and some of them painted too- although i believe their
> painting was interpreted of being of the movement of objects, rather than
> objects themselves (e.g. lots of zig zags for a ball bouncing) all a bit
> dubious perhaps...
> Do any animals categorically make aesthetic representations, aside from
> physical performances, like humans do? Bower birds perhaps?
> Is this a root to memes- the capacity to abstract an idea into a
> representational form in another medium (cave art, stone tool, piece of
> modern art, whatever...)?
> Off the topic a bit I'm sure.
I don't think it's off the topic: I'm pretty sure it is a root to memes.
As you say, the capacity to represent, to carry the idea from one context to another, is crucial. I believe that humans' (almost certainly unique) ability to metarepresent - or in other words to carry the idea from one representational system to another; to reflect on
*how* it is represented - is the key to memes themselves. But there seem to be degrees/types of representation, with some creatures capable of much simpler types than others, and I'm sure there's a spectrum here.
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