By David Emery
Netlore Archive: Circulating via email, an unsettling photograph of what appears to be a half-dog, half-human creature suckling her hybrid offspring.
Description: Viral image
Circulating since: April 2005
Status: It's a sculpture! (see details below)
Email contributed by Kim G., May 5, 2005:
Fwd: Check Out The Human Dog!!
Click to Enlarge
Analysis: The strange, half-human creatures in the image above are neither real nor a hoax; they are elements of a sculpture by Australian artist Patricia Piccinini entitled "The Young Family," which, in turn, is part of a larger installation called "We Are Family," described by Jane Silversmith of the Australian Council for the Arts as an exploration of "the changing relationship between what is considered natural and what is considered artificial."
"Piccinini's works animate the promise and the perils of the runaway scientific developments that pervade our time," Silversmith continues. "Her art embodies our dreams dreams of perfect children, of perfect health, of life disease-free, and articulates the value of difference and uncertainty in human life."
Variously characterized as "sow-like," "half-human, half-dog," "human-dog hybrid," and "trans-species," Piccinini's silicone creatures are unsettling, even disturbing, to look at, because they blur the boundary between human and animal in such a lifelike way. It's a timely theme, given continual advances in embryonic stem cell research that may eventually enable scientists to grow human organs in the bodies of other species, and vice-versa. Recalling a mythological beast described by the ancient Greeks as part-lion, part-goat and part-dragon, the subjects of such trans-species experimentation have been appropriately dubbed "chimeras."
Sources and further reading:
We Are Family - Patricia Piccinini
Installation at 2003 Venice Biennale
Patricia Piccinini Represents Australia in Venice Biennale 2003
New Zealand Art Monthly, January 2003
Patricia Piccinini: Hyperfealism
Hybrid Life: The Art of Patricia Piccinini
Living Ethics, Spring 2004
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Last updated: 10/20/13