WBEZ | primates http://www.wbez.org/tags/primates Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Through primates, the evolutionary origins of war http://www.wbez.org/content/through-primates-evolutionary-origins-war <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-08/Exhilerated and Exhausted.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/28772707?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>Today WBEZ launches a new monthly series called Art/Work, where we talk with contemporary visual artists exhibiting in Chicago about the inspiration and perspiration behind their creative endeavors. We begin with <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/">Alison Ruttan</a>, a multimedia artist based in Oak Park, Ill., who works largely in photography and video.</p><p>Ruttan likes to emphasize that she is an artist, not a scientist, despite her fascination with scientific inquiry. She jokes that she was raised to be an "artist anthropologist" by her social scientist parents who moved her to a new school almost every year. “I would have to figure out how to not get picked on,” she said about her childhood. “I was really interested in trying to understand what the rules were about behavior - and trying to fit in.”</p><p>Now, fascinated as she is by human behavior, much of her work is preoccupied with exploring what makes us uniquely human, versus those elements of our behavior which can be traced to our primate ancestors.</p><p>Ruttan’s previous projects include a series on primates <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/art.php?group=0&amp;item=4">photographed in human settings</a>, and an investigation of bonobos living in captivity who may be <a href="http://www.alisonruttan.com/art.php?group=0&amp;item=1">cultivating individual hairstyles</a>. But her most ambitious project to date is a photo series based on the field work of legendary primatologist Jane Goodall.</p><p>Goodall spent decades in Tanzania starting in the 1960s, observing the behavior of humanity’s closest primate relatives: chimpanzees.&nbsp; Among the things she witnessed was a brutal "war" between two groups of chimpanzees that had previously lived together as a single, peaceful community. After splitting in two, one group of chimpanzees attacked and decimated what Ruttan called “their former friends.”</p><p>For her series <em>The Four Year War at Gombe</em>, Ruttan cast untrained actors (and one performance artist) to re-enact scenes from Goodall’s work. Shot in a patch of woods in Oak Park and River Forest, Ill. the resulting photographs are reminiscent of the kind of dark, 19th century illustrations that might accompany classic children's fairy tales. The woods are dark and foreboding, the photos, haunting. Her images also take aesthetic cues from horror films shot with hand-held cameras, like <em>The Blair Witch Project,</em> and have the kind of size and presence one finds in monumental landscape painting or the stained glass windows of a cathedral.&nbsp;You can see Ruttan’s work, and hear her describe her process, in the video above.</p><p><em>Selections from </em>The Four Year War at Gombe <em>are on display at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago through Oct. 16<sup>th</sup>. Ruttan gives an artist talk tonight at 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. </em></p></p> Thu, 08 Sep 2011 16:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/through-primates-evolutionary-origins-war Clever Apes #13: Origin stories http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-05-24/clever-apes-13-origin-stories-86999 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-24/Kipunji.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="The only known specimen of rungwecebus kipunji is locked away at the Field Museu" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-25/Kipunji 1.jpg" style="width: 595px; height: 335px;" title="The only known specimen of rungwecebus kipunji is locked away at the Field Museum. "></p><p>Say the original <a href="http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/">Declaration of Independence </a>burned up. No problem, you might think – we have pictures of it. But then say someone discovered that a word had been scratched out and replaced. Without the original document to examine, we might never know what that discarded word was … or how close we came to being a nation founded on the right to pursue “life, liberty and the pursuit of waffles.”</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483509-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/Clever_Apes_13_Origin_Stories.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>There’s power in the original – whether it’s a document, the mold of a famous sculpture, or the standard of a common measurement, like <a href="http://www.bipm.org/en/practical_info/faq/faqs_mass.html">the kilogram.</a></p><p>Scientists who name a new species keep an artifact of its origin. It’s called the holotype – the standard by which a new species (or genus or subspecies) is designated. It turns out there are a whole bunch of these <a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/explore/our-collections/mammal-collection">locked away in secure cases in Chicago</a> – more than 500 just for mammals. It’s like a tiny National Archives of biology.</p><p>On this round of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/cleverapes">Clever Apes, </a>we consider origins, from the concrete example of a <a href="http://www.wcs.org/saving-wildlife/small-primates/kipunji.aspx">monkey holotype</a>, to the murk of the beginnings of consciousness. On that point, we check in with Malcolm MacIver of Northwestern, whom we visited last year to hear a choir of singing fish he helped create. Those fish inspired his theory on the origins of consciousness, which he first laid out in <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/sciencenotfiction/2011/03/14/why-did-consciousness-evolve-and-how-can-we-modify-it/">several blog posts.</a> He dates it back to our emergence from the primordial oceans, when all of a sudden we could begin to see much farther. That meant more time to plan, to consider possible futures. And that, by at least one formulation, is the essence of consciousness.</p><p>As always, subscribe to the Clever Apes&nbsp;<a href="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast" target="_blank" title="http://feeds.feedburner.com/CleverApesPodcast">podcast</a>, follow us on&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/cleverapes" target="_blank" title="http://twitter.com/#!/cleverapes">Twitter</a>, find us on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412" target="_blank" title="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Clever-Apes-on-WBEZ/118246851551412">Facebook</a>.</p><p><img alt="Alas, poor Kipunj: Bill Stanley and the skull of a new genus he helped identify." class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-25/Stanley and skull 1.jpg" title="Alas, poor Kipunj: Bill Stanley and the skull of a new genus he helped identify." width="600" height="337"></p></p> Wed, 25 May 2011 04:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/clever-apes/2011-05-24/clever-apes-13-origin-stories-86999