PRIMATE CINEMA: BABOONS AS FRIENDS

1 03 2009

By RACHEL MAYERI

Primate Cinema is a planned series of videos that visualize primate social dramas for human audiences. The first video experiment, Baboons as Friends, juxtaposes footage of baboons taken in the field with a reenactment by human actors, shot in film noir style in a bar in Los Angeles. A tale of lust, jealousy, sex, and violence transpires simultaneously in nonhuman and human worlds. Beastly males, instinctively attracted to a femme fatale, fight to win her, but most are doomed to fail. The story of sexual selection is presented across species, the dark genre of film noir re-mapping the savannah to the urban jungle.

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Baboons as Friends is presented in split screen. One side shows raw field footage of baboons in Kenya, shot by primatologist/cognitive scientist, Deborah Forster. The other side shows a reenactment I scripted and directed with actors in Hollywood. The soundtrack combines actual vocalizations of the baboons with the ambience of a bar. Once the video has ended it is shown a second time along with a commentary by Forster on the behavior of primates. Baboons as Friends can also be presented as a two channel video installation with voiceover narration on headphones.

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