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The Illumination of the Animal Kingdom: The Role of Light and Electricity in Animal Representation

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image of Society & Animals

This essay addresses the subject of animal representation via an historical account of the place of the animal in visual culture. It emphasizes the relationship between the animal as a visual image and the technology that produces this image. It explores three examples in a period covering c. 1895 to the 1930s, in Britain, that analyze the relations between animal representation, technology, and the public domain. These are film, zoo display, and slaughterhouse practice. The overall goal of the essay is to move away from emphasis on the textual, metaphorical animal, which reduces the animal to a mere icon, to achieve a more integrated view of the effects of the presence of the animals and the power of its imagery in human history.

"[s]i l'animal a le temps, s'il est «constitué» par un «temps»" ["[w]hether the animal has time, whether the animal is 'constituted' by a 'time.'"] (Derrida, 1999, p. 273)


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