November 17-20, 2011
Concourse Gallery, Emily Carr University of Art + Design

#TrainingYRHuman, interactive social media, 2011 (in progress)
by ecoarttech

Tuffy is a member of the ecoarttech collaborative and of a unique subgroup of the dog species called Akita. Akitas are extremely loyal and loving animals, but they also possess proud, dominant personalities with traits that many humans find difficult to handle, including the tendency to challenge their leaders for the alpha position, the refusal to engage “boring” activities (like fetching a ball over and over), a propensity to treat small animals (including dogs) as prey, and the refusal to submit to anyone’s command except for one human leader who has earned their respect. Akitas are often considered primitive, too much like their wolf ancestors to fit into modern societies, which demand that dogs conform to human expectations of docility at all costs. Since we have adopted Tuffy, she has worked hard to integrate herself into modern life and has developed many strategies to express her dominant, aggressive personality in acceptable ways: she is adept at sweet yet aggressive licks, adamant displays of submission (such as doing a Sit with a lot of attitude), and obstinate sighs of frustration when she must do as told. In addition, she has developed advanced skills in manipulating human beings into getting what she wants, especially family friends. Through Tuffy, we have learned about the limits of humans’ imagination of the canine species, how humans continually give their dog-friends the wrong messages, how dogs cannot be homogenized into one unified category of Dog-ness, and that humans are not the only ones doing the training.

ecoarttech was founded by Cary Peppermint and Leila Nadir to explore environmental issues and convergent media and technologies from an interdisciplinary perspective, including art, digital studies, philosophy, literature, and ecocriticism. Leila earned her Ph.D. in English from Columbia University and is Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Environmental Humanities at Wellesley College. She works as an interdisciplinary scholar, artist, and creative writer, traversing the fields of trans-American literature, critical/cultural theory, theories of modernity/modernism, and media studies. Cary is Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester. Through his post-disciplinary artistic practice, he explores the convergence of ecological, cultural, and digital networks. Some of ecoarttech’s most recent works include “Eclipse,” an internet-based work commissioned by Turbulence of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc.; “Untitled Landscape #5,” an internet work commissioned for the Whitney Museum of American Art Sunrise/Sunset series; “Center for Wildness and the Everyday,” an interdisciplinary networked artwork created with faculty and students at the University of North Texas exploring the Trinity River Basin; and “Indeterminate Hikes,” an Android app that guides users through New York City’s Wilderness, which debuted at the Whitney Museum of American Art 2010 ISP exhibition.

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