feeler — Experimenta

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Wurundjeri Country
Melbourne, VIC, Australia


feeler forms part of m0wson&MOwson’s ongoing artistic research into motherhood and the reproductive manipulation and control of non-human life forms.

Current research into breeding octopuses is being driven by the potential to intensively farm them for meat. There are few welfare considerations for fish, and practically none for invertebrates. Octopus are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures with a very particular process of motherhood: the octopus mother nurtures her eggs and dies shortly after they hatch.

Intensive agricultural systems have been linked to the emergence and amplification of disease. Large scale antibiotic use and the misuse of antiviral drugs can lead to the emergence of drug resistant species strains. Increasingly we are under threat from zoonotic pathogens [germs,viruses, bacteria, parasites etc] Many recent viral infections have arisen through intensive farming, through contact forced by the spatial expansion of agriculture, or through captive wildlife contact and consumption.

This work responds to these issues.  Dismembered octopus tentacles suspend from the gallery ceiling, the colour and their arrangement reminiscent of drying deli meat. The tentacles emit contrasting and pulsating lights creating an animate effect. The skin is embedded with patterns inspired by microscopic images of agricultural and zoonotic pathogens, clusters of papilla (protrusions on octopus skin) and papule (pustules).

feeler asks us to consider the nature of human relationships with other animals and the ethics of intensive farming practices.

The Artist

m0wson&MOwson (lynn mowson and Bruce Mowson) collaborate on sculpture and sound/light projects focusing on human/non-human animal interactions.