Thursday, 23 February 2012

Artist Research: Jo-Anne McArthur

bio photo
Jo-Anne McArthur is a documentary photographer, animal activist and an environmentalist. She has been working as a documentary photographersince 2000. Her love of travel, curiosity about people, animals and different cultures has lead her to over 40 countries on all 7 continents. Though she shoots portrait, editorial, food and event photography in her hometown of Toronto, Canada, she also spends 5-6 months of each year working abroad on documentary stories such as "We Animals".

We Animals is an ambitious project which documents, through photography, animals in the human environment. The project began in 1998 when McArthur was becoming more aware of the abuses animals suffer at the hands of humans. The title is intetionally broad in subject matter, interpretation and implication. The premise of the project is that humans are as much animal as the beings we use for food, clothing, research, experimentation, work, entertainment, slavery and companionship. The goal of the projectis to break down the barriers that humans have built which allow us to treat non-human animals as objects and not as beings.

Though she began shooting subject matter that close to home - companion animals, zoos, meat markets etc, the project has grown significantly in scope, to the point that much of it is now being photographed globally. The "human environment", after all, has grown to reach all corners of the globe. We humans claim these spaces as our own as well as the creatures that inhabit them. McArthur's objective has been to photograph our interactions with animals in such a way that the viewer finds new significance in these ordinary, often unnoticed situations of use, abuse and sharing of spaces.

Since the conceptions of the project, stories and photographs for We Animals have been shot in over 40 countries and the photos have contribuated to dozens of worldwide campaigns to end the suffering of animals.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Human Uses for Dogs

Although most modern dogs are kept as pets, there are still a tremendous number of ways in which dogs can and do assist humans, and more uses are found for them every year. Dogs and their handlers need a strong relationship in order to communicate effectively with one another. The following list provides an idea of the versatility of dogs:

·         Turnspit dogs were used as a source of power; they turned a treadmill connected to a roasting spit.
·         Service or assistance dogs help people with various disabilities in everyday tasks. Some examples include guide dogs for the visually impaired, and hearing dogs for the hearing impaired.
·         Therapy dogs visit people who are incapacitated or prevented in some way from having freedom of movement; these dogs provide cheer and entertainment for the elderly in retirement facilities, the ill and injured in hospitals, and so on.
·         Rescue dogs assist people who are in difficult situations, such as in the water after a boat disaster.
File:State Department Images WTC 9-11 Officer with the Canine Rescue Team.jpg
·         Search dogs locate people who are missing; lost in the wilderness, covered in snow avalanches, buried under collapsed buildings, etc. using their amazing sense of smell.
·         Herding dogs are still invaluable to sheep and cattle handlers around the world for mustering; different breeds are used for the different. A well trained dog can adapt to control any sort of domestic and many wild animals.
·         Sled dogs, although today primarily used in sporting events, still can assist in transporting people and supplies in rugged, snowy terrain.
·         Hunting dogs assist hunters in finding, tracking, and retrieving game, or in routing vermin.
·         Guard dogs and watch dogs help to protect private or public property, either in living or used for patrols, as in the military and with security firms.
·         Tracking dogs help find lost people and animals or track down possible criminals.
·         Cadaver dog or Human Remains Detection Dogs use their scenting ability to discover bodies or human remains at the scenes of disasters, crimes, accidents, or suicides.
·         Detection dogs of a wide variety help to detect termites in homes, illegal substances in luggage, bombs, chemicals, and many other substances.
·         War Dogs or K9 Corps are used by armed forces in many of the same roles as civilian working dogs, but in a military context. In addition, specialized military tasks such as mine detection or wire laying have been assigned to dogs. Military Working Dog is the more formal, current term for dogs trained for use in military tasks.
·         Police dogs, also sometimes called K9 Units, are usually trained to track or immobilize possible criminals while assisting officers in making arrests or investigating the scene of a crime. Some are even specially trained for anti-terrorist units, as in Austria.
·         Dogs are sometimes used in programs to assist children in learning how to read. The Reading With Rover program in Washington pairs trained dogs with children who read aloud to the dog. This process builds confidence and reduces stress.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Combinations and Alliances - Mind Mapping My Ideas

When I first thought about the theme I struggled with ideas, so I decided to use a mind map to help me with developing any starting ideas; it turned out I had quite a few! Some were easier to develop, whilst others came to a dead end. 
So far the idea of canine and human relationships interests me the most.