Article

De-extinction and representation: Perspectives from art history, museology, and the Anthropocene

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

Chapter
In this chapter, I consider the shifts in species status from success to threat, in terms of the development of a hierarchy of species roles commencing with Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, the relationship between the two key ‘macroscopic’ processes of heritable variation and environmental change, and later developments in the study of the relationship between these macroscopic (genetic-evolutionary) and ‘microscopic’ (atomic-level) processes. I consider the latter relation with reference to the interventions made by theorists in biology and physics interested in the possibilities of a ‘quantum biology’ or, at the very least, some potential applications of quantum dynamic models to our understanding of biological processes, including the ecological concern with the dynamics of populations.
Article
In this article, I argue that art can enable a critique of museological conventions, along with related ideas of natural history and extinction, which together have structured practices of preserving and representing departed species as scientific specimens. I draw on the case of the huia specifically, a bird species endemic to New Zealand, which became extinct in the early twentieth century, as a result of multiple ecological, cultural, political and economic forces stemming from colonization. I suggest the preservation of individual huia birds in the form of scientific specimens demonstrates how Victorian aesthetics and ideas about the natural world shaped the modality through which non-human life was, and to some extent still is, recorded and portrayed according to particular archival norms. Utilizing concepts from recent scholarship in the field of extinction studies, I critically consider how the works of two artists which feature the huia, challenge the traditions of the museum and the archive. First, I examine how Fiona Pardington’s photography of huia specimens frames the species as a life form that became extinct in a context scarred by the complex and violent entanglement of people and nature. Second, I show how a work of sound art by Sally Ann McIntyre, which is centred on the inaudible recordings of huia specimens played on Kapiti Island, the bird’s original habitat, highlights that extinction results in the loss of multispecies relationality.
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the role of nostalgia in practices of remembering the Huia, an extinct bird endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand. It suggests that nostalgia for the Huia specifically, and New Zealand's indigenous birds more generally, has occurred as both restorative nostalgia and reflective nostalgia. It argues that the former problematically looks to recreate a past world in which birds flourished. In contrast, the paintings of Bill Hammond and the sound art of Sally Ann McIntyre are drawn on to explore the potential of reflective nostalgia for remembering the Huia, and New Zealand's extinct indigenous birds more generally, in a more critical and nuanced way.
Article
Full-text available
The extinct Huia (Heteralocha acutirostris) of New Zealand represents the most extreme example of beak dimorphism known in birds. We used a combination of nuclear genotyping methods, molecular sexing, and morphometric analyses of museum specimens collected in the late 19(th) and early 20(th) centuries to quantify the sexual dimorphism and population structure of this extraordinary species. We report that the classical description of Huia as having distinctive sex-linked morphologies is not universally correct. Four Huia, sexed as females had short beaks and, on this basis, were indistinguishable from males. Hence, we suggest it is likely that Huia males and females were indistinguishable as juveniles and that the well-known beak dimorphism is the result of differential beak growth rates in males and females. Furthermore, we tested the prediction that the social organisation and limited powers of flight of Huia resulted in high levels of population genetic structure. Using a suite of microsatellite DNA loci, we report high levels of genetic diversity in Huia, and we detected no significant population genetic structure. In addition, using mitochondrial hypervariable region sequences, and likely mutation rates and generation times, we estimated that the census population size of Huia was moderately high. We conclude that the social organization and limited powers of flight did not result in a highly structured population.
Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle Interestingly, Darwin was among the various illustrious subscribers to the first volume of Birds of New Zealand, as was Gould
  • Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin, Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle, vol. III: Journal and remarks (London: Henry Colburn, 1839). Interestingly, Darwin was among the various illustrious subscribers to the first volume of Birds of New Zealand, as was Gould. See Buller, A history of the birds of New Zealand (1873), v–vi.
Color vision of birds
  • Francisco J Varela
  • Adrian G Palacios
  • Timothy H Goldsmith
Francisco J. Varela, Adrian G. Palacios, and Timothy H. Goldsmith, 'Color vision of birds', in Vision, brain, and behavior in birds, ed. H. Philip Zeigler and Hans-Joachim Bischof (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 1993), 77.
From ecocide to genetic rescue
  • See Heatherington
See Heatherington, 'From ecocide to genetic rescue', 41.
  • Lorraine Daston
  • Peter Galison
Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Objectivity (New York, NY: Zone Books, 2010), 53.
Interestingly, Darwin was among the various illustrious subscribers to the first volume of Birds of New Zealand, as was Gould
  • See Charles Darwin
See Charles Darwin, Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty's ships Adventure and Beagle, vol. III: Journal and remarks (London: Henry Colburn, 1839). Interestingly, Darwin was among the various illustrious subscribers to the first volume of Birds of New Zealand, as was Gould. See Buller, A history of the birds of New Zealand (1873), v-vi.