Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Elephant art

Elephants make real art. Here is an example from the Elephant Art Gallery.

The elephant's trainer named the elephant SriSiam and this artwork "Mercury Rising." We do not know what the elephant calls itself or this work.

This counts as real art because it was spontaneously produced by an intelligent, self aware creature, based on its own aesthetic sense. Aum-Mon Weesatchanam, the founder of the Elephant Art Gallery, explains:
I am certain that our elephant artists know what they are doing when they paint. After I have handed the loaded paintbrush to them, they proceed to paint in their own distinctive style, with delicate strokes or broad ones, gently dabbing the bristles on the paper or with a sweeping flourish, vertical lines or arcs and loops, ponderously or rapidly and so on. No two artists have the same style.

Also, the art is very pretty.

Fake elephant art also exists. Here's an example of fake elephant art, from Slate

A couple commenters on slate say that this trick is all over Thailand and that the elephant is responding to physical cues from the trainer, so the trainer is subtly guiding the trunk. Aum-Mon Weesatchanam discusses fake elephant art here.

I've been meaning to do an elephant art post for a long time. I'm a fan of elephant art the same way I am a fan of kids art. Promoting elephant art fits the mission of the North Country Academy for the Excruciatingly Fine arts. The video from Slate got forwarded to the ISEE listserv just now, so I thought I'd take this opportunity.

Update: Artist/provocateurs Komar and Melamid also have an elephant art project.

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