Hello everyone! Welcome back to my online journal. I’ve had enough break to feel energized and ready to explore the topic of animals! Before this semester, I had an idea form itself before completion. I brainstormed, and upon picking the best idea, explored its possibilities. This semester however, I want the project to lead me instead. I want to explore the topic of animals in a way, that doesn’t rely on my planning.
What I have in mind is – everytime I see an animal, whether fantastical or real, whether in person (on a walk) or through a screen (while watching tv, browsing internet, playing a game), I will document it and research that animal, starting from my cat!
Entry One: British Shorthair
In order to make the first entry special, I’m dedicating it to my dearest childhood friend and family member – Gaspar. Although my memory from childhood is hazy, I remember that he came to our family as a small kitten around the year 2007/08. I remember how frightened he was to see us, his new family. As a curious child, I tried to hold his tiny paw in my hand, but he ran away from me. Over all these years, we bonded together and he truly became my best friend. He comforted me through my harships, mischeviously jumped on my legs while I was least expecting it, and at this point, I cannot imagine how my childhood would look like without him. I think, that this relationship between owners and animals is beautiful, and I will try to research more into it as I progress with my project.
British Shorthair – information about breed
- Round eyes, paws, and head;
- In the past, this breed was called the British Blue, since it only came in that colour, but nowadays, they come in different varieties. My cat, for example, has fully black fur and yellow eyes;
- Quite bulky in appearance;
- These cats shed often and need brushing 2-3 times a week. This number increases during spring, when they shed their winter coat.
General personality traits:
- Intelligent and calm in demeanour;
- While these cats aren’t usually lap cats, they are very affectionate and loving through different ways – such as hanging around you or showing that they trust you;
- Apparently males of this breed tend to be more easy-going, while females are on the more serious side. Personally, my male cat was always rather serious, with a hint of playfulness from time to time;
- These cats were brought to Britain by Romans during their invasion, as help in protecting various food supplies from rodents. Left behind, they spread around the country;
- During the Victorian Era, this breed was one of the first breeds to be developed when pedigree breeding was popular;
- British Shorthairs almost died out during World War II, mainly due to starvation caused by food shortages. Breeders revived the breed through cross-breeding with different cats.
- It’s known to be one of the oldest cat breeds.
Black cats – cultural info and superstitions
- There are 22 cat breeds recognized by the Cat Fancier’s Association that can come with solid black cats;
- Most black cats have deep golden eyes caused by their high levels of melanin;
- August 17th is a Black Cat Appreciation Day. It was created by Wayne H. Morris to honour his dead sister which owned a black cat named Sinbad.
- In Celtic Nations and Japanese folklore, black cats have a positive association;
- According to Scottish lore, a black cat’s arrival at a new home brings prosperity;
- In Welsh lore, a black cat is supposed to bring good health. A Welsh rhyme from 1896 describes this:
Cath ddu, mi glywais dd’wedyd, A black cat, I’ve heard it said,
A fedr swyno hefyd, Can charm all ill away,
A chadw’r teulu lle mae’n byw And keep the house wherein she dwells
O afael pob rhyw glefyd. From fever’s deadly sway.
- However, negative superstitions occur in these cultures as well. In Scotland, the form of a black cat is taken by a fairy known as Cat Sith. It’s a large black cat with a white spot of fur in the middle of its chest. It is said it haunts the Scottish Highlands;
- In Welsh mythology exists Cath Palug, a monstrous cat haunting the Isle of Anglesey. It is said that it killed 180 warriors or Sir Key when he went to the island to hunt it down;
- In some areas of England, black cats were associated with witches and bad omens.
- The mix of positive and negative associations caused people to believe black cats were both an omen of good and bad luck;
- Often imagined as familiars of witches or a shape-shift version of a witch;
- Some of these superstitions caused people to kill black cats.
I’m aware that I didn’t describe my project idea in detail yet! After all, there’s inspiration, the theme, and research… But where is the art? That’s what I will do now! Every day in which I manage to update, I will research a certain animal and use that knowledge to inspire my artistic process! I decided to not limit myself to any form of art and use what I am comfortable with! Ranging from drawings, digital art, music, animations, short stories or poems, anything I find truly fitting.
Outcome #1 – 27.01.2021 “Night Walk”
Entry Two – The Elk (Moose)
Hi again! During yesterday’s classes we had a screening of “Becoming Animal” (2018). As promised (unfortunately with a delay), I documented the first animal I have seen during the day with the intention of researching it and using as an inspiration to create art of any medium. This time, I’m going to be covering Elk!
Elk – research
- They are called moose in North America and elk in Eurasia;
- The word ‘elk’ refers to a different animal in North America;
- The largest and heaviest extant species in the deer family;
- Most adult male elk have open-hand shaped (palmate) antlers, which makes them different than most other members of the deer family with dendritic antlers;
- Their fur consist of two layers – top layer of long guard hairs and a soft wooly undercoat;
- Elk feet have two large keratinized hooves corresponding to the third and fourth toe, with two small posterolateral dewclaws, corresponding to the second and fifth toe;
- Both male and female elk have dewlap, a fold of skin under the chin. It’s use isn’t known well, but according to speculations, it may be used in mating;
- Their tails are short (from 6 to 8 cm);
- They require habitat with suitable edible plants, cover from predators and protection from extreme weather, cold or hot;
- Moose have poor heat tolerance and are more adapted to live in slightly colder areas;
- They avoid areas with little or no snow since it increases the risk of predation from different species, however areas with too much snow aren’t suitable for them as well due to bad mobility;
- They have declined in population in some regions of America since the 1990s, the most noted reasons for this are due to wolf predation, bacterial infection and parasites from white-tailed deer. However, the population levels remain stable in arctic and subarctic areas;
- Cows (females) select mates based on antler size;
- The size and growth rate of antlers is determined by diet and age. Symmetry reflects health;
- Elk are ‘browsing herbivores’, meaning they feed from leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growing, generally woody plants;
- Unlike other dangerous animals, elk are not territorial, and do not view humans as food, and will therefore usually not pursue humans if they simply run away;
- European cave paintings and other relics from the past reveal, that elk were hunted by humans since the Stone Age;
- Elk are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression;
- When harassed or startled by people or in the presence of a dog, they may charge;
Älgen Stolta (translated as ‘proud moose’ from Swedish) was an elk known for participating in a trot racing event in Sweden. Stolta was rescued as a calf and raised like a tame horse, doing forestry work, pulling cards and sleds with material, also used to pull a sled carrying tourists between the railway station and a nearby hotel. It won a trot race against trained trotting horses over an ice-covered lake in 1907. After the park she had been cared for in closed down, she was moved to an open-air museum of Skansen. Her name was changed to Lotta. After the 1907 race, a rule prohibiting the use of moose as draft animals was added.
Outcome #2 – 03.02.2021 “It’s been a long time”
Entry 3: The Bear
The Source: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Good evening! Today’s animal came to me through one of my favourite game series – Danganronpa. While playing it today, I stumbled upon Monokuma (a major character in the series) and realized, that he’s the first animal (or, animal inspired character!) I’ve seen for the day!
- Bears are carnivoran mammals. They are classified as a family of Ursidae;
- Only 8 species of bears are extant, but they are spread around the world;
- Other than the carnivorous polar bear and bamboo-eating panda, the 6 remaining species are omnivorous;
Bears in media:
Bears are a popular topic in media. The wikipedia list of bear characters appearing in popular media is quite lengthy by now;(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_bears)
Outcome #3 – 06/02/2021 “Scratch”
Entry 4: The Beaver
The Source: Zombeavers
Hello again! For a change, I knew today’s topic even before I got to see it – I was watching the key films for my other module, and Zombeavers was on the list! Now, since it’s quite late and I’m relatively tired, I will just cover the research and call it a day, while the art will be made and uploaded tomorrow! This is because I don’t want to miss a day, but I also don’t think I would be able to produce something decent while being this tired.
- Beavers are large, semiaquatic rodents of the temperate Northern Hemisphere;
- There are two extant species in the Castor genus: the North American and Eurasian beaver;
- They are the second largest living rodents after capybaras;
- Beavers build dams and lodges using tree branches, vegetation, rocks and mud. They chew down trees for building material;
- They are considered keystone species (a species which has disproportionally large effect on its natural environment relative to its abundance), since their dams affect many other organisms in the ecosystem;
- They are a territorial species;
- They have been hunted by humans for their fur, meat, and castoreum.
Outcome #4 – 08/02/2021 Dam (Haiku)
I am building a dam.
Please rearrange my creative thoughts and processes,
Separate from insecurities and doubts.
Entry 5: The Crow
Today’s animal was chosen by my friend! Crows are actually my favorite birds, so I’m quite excited to research them further!
- These birds are known to be very intelligent. They can learn how to talk just like parrots! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzBrlUIluu0&ab_channel=PhilAslaksen);
- There are about 40 species of crow;
- Crows are good at problem-solving and have good communication skills. They can easily avoid any mean humans they’ve come to contact with, since they don’t forget faces and teach other crows to identify the human;
- A group of crows is called a murder. When a crow dies, the murder will surround the deceased crow, and try to find what killed their member. Then, the murder of crows will band together and chase the predators in a behavior called mobbing;
- Crows are omnivores, meaning that they eat almost anything;
- Most crow species aren’t endangered, with the exception of the Flores crow.
Outcome #5 – 08/02/2021 Funeral
Entry 6: The Pig
Hello again! Today’s animal came to me through a Winnie the Pooh discord gif I sent to my friend! Since I’ve already covered bears, I decided to focus on Piglet, which means that today’s animal is the pig!
- The domestic pig is considered a subspecies of the Eurasian boar or a distinct species;
- The size and weight of individual pigs varies depending on their breed;
- They are most commonly farmed for their meat (called pork);
- A group of pigs is called a passel, a team or a sounder;
- According to The Livestock Conservancy, as of 2016, there are three critically rare pig breeds – the Choctaw hog, the Mulefoot and the Ossabaw Island hog. Their population is fewer than 2000;
- Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs (a miniature breed of domestic pig) have made popular pets in the US, beginning in the latter half of the 20th century. These pigs make great pets, as they are considered to be intelligent, gregarious and trainable;
- The domestic pigs are one of the most valuable animal models used in biomedical research today. This is because of their biological, physiological and anatomical similarities to human beings. They are also thought to be the best candidates for non-human candidates for organ donation to humans;
- In the belief of traditional Irish fishermen, the pig is seen as a thing of bad luck and should not be mentioned.
Outcome 6: 11/02/2021 “Pig on a treadmill” (Sketch from photo)
Entry 7: The Tiger
Hello again! It seems like animals are avoiding me lately, since I can’t get around to documenting them ^^;; Luckily, with the help of my friends, I am able to keep producing content!
- The tiger (also known as panthera tigris) is the largest extant cat species and a member of the genus Panthera;
- It is an apex predator, primarily praying on ungulates like deer and wild boar;
- It is territorial and generally a solitary but social predator;
- The tiger is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List;
- Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years, before they become independent and leave their mother’s home range to estabilish their own;
- Captive tigers were bred with lions to create hybrids called liger and tigon
Outcome 7: 12/02/2021 “Independent” (Haiku)
I’m learning to become independent
Like the tiger cub finding new territory,
I shall find mine soon.
Entry 8: Stag Beetle
Hello! Today’s animal came to me during my research for the group project (designing an animal)! I will say more about it on my main journal page, but for now I can say that I was inspired by beetles and thus, wanted to make a similar sub-species insect.
- The stag beetle is the largest terrestrial insects in Europe;
- Male stag beetles are known for their large mandibles which they use to wrestle each other for favoured mating sites in a way that parallels the way stags fight over females;
- Sometimes, fights may occur between stag beetles for food;
- They are not aggressive towards humans;
- Female stag beetles are usually smaller than the males, with smaller mandibles that are much more powerful than the males’;
- As larvae, they feed for several years on rotting wood, growing through three larval stages until eventually pupating inside a pupal cell constructing from surrounding wood pieces and soil particles. In the final larval stage, “L3”, the surrounding grubs of other species may be the size of a human finger.
Outcome 8: 13/02/2021 “Stag Beetle Appreciation Sketches”
Entry 9: The Salamander
Hello everyone! I’m so sorry for not updating for the past two days! I really didn’t feel up to it, but now I’m resuming the daily updates starting with this entry that I didn’t finish.
- Salamanders are a group of amphibians characterised by a lizard-like appearance;
- Salamander diversity is highest in the Northern Hemisphere and most species are found in the Holarctic realm, with some species present in the neotropical realm;
- Salamanders rarely have more than four toes on their front legs and five on their rear legs, but some species have fewer digits and others lack hind limbs;
- Their permeable skin usually makes them reliant on habitats in or near water or other damp places;
- They are capable of regenerating lost limbs as well as other lost parts of their body;
- The skin of some species contains a powerful poison called tetrodotoxin. The salamanders that are members of these species tend to be slow-moving and have bright warning coloration to advertise their toxicity;
- Salamanders typically lay eggs in water and have aquatic larvae;
Outcome 9 – “Do not approach”
Entry 10: The Swan
- Swans’ closest relatives are geese and ducks;
- There are 6 living and many extinct species of swan, as well as a species called ‘coroscoba swan’ which is no longer consider one of ‘true swans’;
- Swans usually mate for life, although sometimes divorce occurs, mostly due to nesting failure. When a partner dies, the remaining swan will mate with another;
- Swans are the largest extant species of the waterfowl family Anatidae and are among the largest flying birds;
- Swans are typically found in temperate environments, rarely occuring in the tropics;
- Several swan species are migratory;
- A group of swans is called a bevy or a wedge in flight;
- Swans feed in water and on land. They are almost entirely herbivorous, although they may sometimes eat small aquatic animals;
Swans in culture:
- Swans are often considered as a symbol of love, due to their long-lasting relationships;
- The mute swan is the sacred symbol of the Greek god Apollo;
- The Irish legend ‘Children of Lir’ is about a stepmother transforming her children into swans for 900 years;
- A swan is one of the attributes of St. Hugh of Lincoln, based on a story of a swan that was devoted to him;
- The black swan theory is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalised after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. It originated from a belief in Ancient Rome according to which black swans did not exist.
Outcome 10: Swan couple (quick sketch)
Entry 11: The Capybara
Hello again! Great news – a new capybara species was discovered! The species is called Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris viridis. They are gorgeous and I’m interested to find out more about them!
- The capybara is the largest living rodent in the world;
- Its close relatives include guinea pig and rock cavies;
- The capybaras are semiaquatic animals;
- They live in almost all countries of South America except of Chile.
- They live in densely forested areas near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers etc.;
- Capybaras are herbivores;
- Capybaras are autocoprophabous, meaning they eat their own feces as a source of bacterial gut flora, to help digest cellulose in grass and to extract the maximum protein and vitamins from their food;
- They can have a lifespan of 8-10 years, but tend to live less than four years in the wild due to predation;
- Capybaras are known to be gregarious – while sometimes living solitarily, they are more commonly found in groups of 10-20 individuals;
Outcome 11 – Found
Entry 12: The Seal
- The earless seals are one of the three main groups of mammals with the seal lineage;
- All true seals are members of the family Phocidae;
- Seals live in the oceans of both hemispheres;
- True seals communicate by slapping the water and grunting, unlike otariids which communicate by ‘barking’;
- They spend most of their life in the sea, although they return to land to breed and give birth;
- The seal pup’s diet is so high in calories; it builds up a fat store. Before the pup is ready to forage, the mother abandons it and the pup consumes its own fat for weeks or months until it matures;
- Phocids make use of at least four feeding strategies: suction feeding, grip and tear feeding, filter feeding and pierce feeding;
Outcome 12: “Why does this look like a blob dog?”
Entry 13: The Planthopper
- A planthopper is any insect in the infraorder Fulgoromorpha, in the suborder Auchenorrhyncha, and exceeding 12,500 described species worldwide;
- The family of planthoppers with interlocking gears is called Issidae;
- Planthoppers are often vectors for plant dieseases;
- Both nymphs and adults feed by sucking the sap of plants;
Outcome 13: Gears (quick sketch)
Hello! You’re probably wondering why the quality of my art receeded so much. Well, as much as I’d love to create compelling artworks that I would be proud of, I don’t really have that much time to be able to do that. Besides Interdisciplinary Practice, I also have two other modules – Creative Fiction: Horror and Book Illustration. Both of these modules require a lot of time and work from me (watching lectures, drawing daily, a film idea I have to come up with and finalize and four different illustration projects), and to be able to spend enough time on them, sometimes it is necessary for me to do a quicker entry. Nonetheless, I love doing this project and I want to keep it going! My aim isn’t to create several polished pieces of art, but a project and a relatable experience as a whole! Of course, some outcomes might end up looking lazier than the rest, but in my opinion, it adds to the experience, and inspires to think about everything as a whole, including life in itself. I hope this explanation helps, and I’ll try to find the time to make something better soon!
Entry 14: The Ferret
- Its scientific name is mustela putorius furo;
- The ferret is a domesticated version of the European polecat;
- Their fur is typically brown, black, white, or mixed;
- Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators, with males being substantially larger than females;
- The history of their domestication is unclear, but it’s likely that they’ve been domesticated for at least 2,500 years;
- Since they’re so closely related to polecats, they can easily hybridize with them, which occasionally resulted in feral colonies of polecat-ferret hybrids that have caused damage to natural fauna, especially in New Zealand;
- The name ‘ferret’ is derived from the latin “furritus” meaning “little thief”
- A male ferret is called a hob, a female ferret is called a jill;
- Ferrets are crepuscular – they are more active around dawn or dusk. Also, they sleep around 14-18 hours a day;
- Similar to skunks, ferrets can release their anal gland secretions when startled or scared, but the smell is much less potent and dissipates rapidly;
- Most pet ferrets in the US are sold descended, with their anal glands removed. In many other parts of the world de-scending is considered an unnecessary mutilation;
Outcome 14 – Retty (Character Design)
Entry 15 – The Chicken
Hello! Today, while shopping I noticed these cute chicken figures. Funnily enough, I realized that I need to photograph them after some time. Thinking about that, I realized how many animals I must’ve missed because I simply wasn’t alerted enough to look for them.
- The chicken is a subspecies of the red junglefowl, and is a type of a domesticated fowl;
- Chickens are ones of the most widespread domestic animals, with a total population of 23.7 billion as of 2018- meaning there are more chickens in the world than any other bird;
- Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food and, less commonly, as pets;
- Chickens are omnivores;
- The average chicken can live from 5 years to 10, depending on the breed;
- Chickens are gregarious and live together in flocks;
- Individual chicken in a flock will dominate others, estabilishing a “pecking order”, with dominant individuals having a priority for food access and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is estabilished. Adding hens to an existing flock can lead to fighting and injury;
Outcome 15 – Chixie (Character Design)
Entry 16 – Atlantic Puffin
- The atlantic puffin, also known as the common puffin, is a species of seabird in the auk family;
- It’s the only puffin native to the Atlantic ocean;
- Although the species has a large population and a wide range, the species has declined rapidly, resulting in being rated as vulnerable by the IUCN;
- The external appearance of an adult male and female are identical, with the male being slightly larger;
- It is a social bird and usually breeds in large colonies;
- Atlantic puffins lead solitary lives when out at sea, and this part of their lives hasn’t been studied well;
- The Atlantic puffin’s diet consists primarily of fish, but examination of its stomach contents shows, that it occasionally eats shrimp and other seafood;
- Adult Atlantic puffins return to land in the spring;
Outcome 16 – Ocean At Hand
Post-tutorial follow up
Hello again! With the help of my module coordinator, I decided to implement some changes:
- I will follow a schedule for the following week as an experiment.
Monday – traditional art
Tuesday – video
Wednesday – poetry/literature
Thursday – photography
Friday – music
Saturday – digital art
Sunday – random
- I’ll try to have more fun with it! That’s why you’ll see more experimental formats after this post.
Entry 17 – The Horse
Hello! Today, I noticed two animals at the same time while watching a TV show. I could choose either a cow or a horse, and the choice was made randomly.
- The scientific name of the horse is Equus ferus caballus;
- Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC;
- Horses are adapted to run, allowing them to quickly escape predators, possesing an excellent sense of balance and a strong fight-or-flight response;
- Female horses, called mares, carry their young for approximately 11 months, and a young horse, called a foal, can stand and run shortly following birth;
- Most domesticated horses have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years;
- Horses are divided in three categories based on temperament – “hot bloods” with speed and endurance, “cold bloods” suitable for slow, heavy work, and “warm bloods” suitable for crosses between hot bloods and cold bloods;
Outcome 18 – Temperaments
Entry 19 – The Cow (Cattle)
Hello again! Since yesterday I saw two animals at the same time, I decided to use both of them for my art. That’s why I will not upload a source today – it’s in the previous post!
- Cattle are the most common type of comesticated ungulates (an ungulate is what we call a mammal with hooves);
- They are most commonly raised as livestock for meat, for milk, and for hides used to make leather. They are also kept as pets;
- Cattle were domesticated around 10,500 years ago;
- Cattle are ruminants, meaning their digestive system is highly specialized to allow the use of poorly digestible plants as food;
- Cattle are known for regurgitating and re-chewing their food, known as cud chewing, like most ruminants;
- A common reproduction model on farm is artificial insemination;
- Calves are capable of discrimination learning. They are also able to discriminate between familiar individuals, and among humans. Cattle can tell the difference between familiar and unfamiliar animals of the same species (conspecifics);
- Studies show, that calves behave less aggressively toward familiar individials when they are forming a new group;
- There are five categories of cattle temperament that have been proposed. These are:
- shynes – boldness;
- exploration – avoidance;
Outcome 19 – The Milky Way
Entry 20 – Raccoon
Hello! This time, I had to ask my friend for an animal, since it didn’t come to me like in the previous days. They chose racoon, and I will deliver.
- The racoon is a medium-sized mammal native to North America;
- The three most distinctive features of a racoon are its extremely dexterous front paws, facial mask, and its ringed tail;
- The racoon is noted for its intelligence, as studies show that it’s able to remember the solutions to tasks for up to 3 years;
- It is usually nocturnal and omnivorous;
- The original habitats of the raccoon are deciduous and mixed forests, but due to their adaptability, they have extended their range to mountainous areas, coastal marshes, and urban areas, where some homeowners consider them to be pests;
- Though they were believed to be solitary animals, new evidence shows, that raccoons engage in sex-specific social behavior;
- In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the most common types of death;
Outcome 20 – Pest (haiku)
I think you’re having fun.
Lured by your pure happiness and unconcern,
I’m shushed before I approach.
Entry 21 – The Domestic Pigeon
Hello again! Similarly to yesterday, today I had to ask a friend for help. Enjoy this research!
- The domestic pigeon is a pigeon subspecies that was derived from the rock dove (AKA the rock pigeon). The rock pigeon is the world’s oldest domesticated bird;
- Pigeons were always important to humanity, for example during times of war, when they were used as messengers;
- Despite their contributions to humanity, city pigeons are often seen as pests, mainly due to their droppings;
- Pigeons are extremely proective of their eggs, and in some cases might resort to revenge on those, who interfere with their productive process;
- Baby pigeons are called squeakers or squabs;