July 07, 2008

Fritz Haeg & the Slender Salamander (Animal Estates 5.0)

The Fritz Haeg Animal Estates Headquarters. Trés Cozy.

So, um, there’s a giant tent in the Koret Visitor Education Center. It’s the San Francisco Headquarters of Fritz Haeg’s Animal Estates project, & I’ve been looking forward to its arrival for months, thinking it was going to double as Nap Headquarters when the going got tough over in the cubicle. As you can see, however, mesh windows all around provide glorious sweeping views (of the Education Center), but a rather limited sense of privacy when it comes to staff naps on the sly.

Yesterday afternoon was the first of Fritz’s “Sundown Schoolhouse” workshops (they’re happening every Sunday in July). This one was focused on Animal Client 5.1: The California Slender Salamander. There was a talk by Michelle Koo from the California Academy of Sciences (I learned that the Slender Salamander, besides being a creature without lungs, is almost entirely sedentary: in all of its lifespan an individual salamander moves only a few square yards), and a garment-making workshop with Feral Childe. If you’d been around, you’d have been able to make yourself (or your kid) a Slender Salamander suit (“hoodie”):

Feral Childe designed the Feral Salamander Hoodie SuitSalamander Hoodie on Baby!

[It was actually a lot of fun. More pictures are here.]

And, there’s been some strong critique of Fritz’s project in the comment box here. In my case, the jury’s still out; I’m very curious about the social aspects of the work and have been thinking about the role of this particular project in a museum or education context. Come down and see what you think; as I say there are Animal Estates workshops happening all month; I’d love to hear more from others as it all unfolds. This Sunday upcoming is Animal Client 5.2: California Quail. The workshop is ‘animal sounds’, with Carson Bell of the California Library of Natural Sounds. There will be sea-lion interactions on tape, and a boombox experiment will have participants using tape & CD boomboxes to create a synchronized soundscape of animals-in-the-wild.

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