First employed by Jacques Derrida in a 1997 text The Animal that Therefore I am, in which he referred to “Kafka’s vast zoopoetics”, a 2014 definition of the term by Aaron Moe calls zoopoetics, “the process of discovering innovative breakthroughs in form through an attentiveness to another species' bodily poiesis.”

We all share the same fascination with animals: the otherness they demonstrate in their physical form—walking on four legs, covered in fur, square wet noses for a heightened olfactory capability, among other delightful differences. But, we also experience animal-beings across borders and cultures with a degree of near universality; the dog that likes to ride in the car with its head out the window, looking outward excitedly, whether in Ontario or Japan; the human obsession with felines throughout history and geography—not to mention the collective drop in basic cognitive functions as one draws nearer to a cat’s disinterested visage. (see: XKCD 231, Cat Proximity)

Zoopoetics is a piece that approaches (non-human) animals not only as a kind of pure inspiration, but also an investigation into the sounds and proto-languages used by these wonderful creatures. By looking into the mechanisms of sound production, the bodies of animals become instrumental, and species categories flattened; for example, a howling wolf sends air through her trachea, mapping the interior topography of her body. The data we gather from the sound is deeply intimate, moreover, on an abstract level, semantic connections abound. How do we understand the sound of a wolf howling out of context, especially when, for brief moments, it sounds exactly like a clarinet multiphonic?

PREMIERE September 19, 2015, Continuum Contemporary Music
LOCATION Harbourfront Centre Theatre, Toronto.
PERSONNEL Flute, Violin, Violoncello, Clarinet (B-flat, Bass), Piano, Percussion.
TECHNOLOGY 2 channel audio, tape with click