The first signs of creative, symbolic and abstract thought in humans can be seen in zoomorphic imagery dating back millennia. The earliest drawings and scratchings reveal tools and technologies involving rituals or the hunt. Animals flourished as potent symbols declaring socio-political, behavioural and environmental conditions…or suggesting ideas related to power, freedom, place, rational thought, ritual & belief and morality.

ZOOVEILLANCE reflects the paradox of recent, technological advancement through the mediated observation of animal behaviour. Three extraordinary works by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Mat Collishaw and Marco Barotti were created after extensive and collaborative scientific and technological research. They reflect concerns around the evolution of two formidable, hyper-transformative technologies, rooted in the 20th century and now blossoming in the 21st…Artificial Intelligence and Social Media.

There is a poignancy to these apparitions; the reactive apes, conditioned pigeons and a critically endangered, northern white rhino. The ritualistic and confined animal behaviour suggests an uneasy or dysfunctional association with each surveilling technology. None of the animals may be separated from its host; all are bound to their technology in some way. Only one animal actively resists; ironically it is the species closest to us.

Each work encourages us to reflect on the paradox of technology; such tremendous potential (vs) unsettling narratives, observations, data and social inclinations. They attest to a digital world increasingly restructured and governed by social media and artificial intelligence. Like the proverbial Canary in a Coal Mine, each work functions as a sort of advance warning system; collecting, monitoring and forecasting our future.