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  • Where the Wild Things Are (Field study)

    'Where the Wild Things Are' (21 October – 5 November 2014) explored the political, social and historical narratives embedded in the natural world through investigation, observation, mapping, archival research and art making. The exhibition consisted of various on-site interventions engaging with contemporary and historical spatial dynamics and the significance of Hiddingh Campus. The Egyptian Building (home to sculpture workshops and studios) was built on the site of a zoo established in the late eighteenth century that was replete with lion’s dens and a small lake that supposedly housed a hippo. The campus was also the home to UCT’s first Zoology and Botany building (now the Michaelis Building). This historical perspective highlights both the site’s colonial imprints and its early affiliation with the sciences. The UCT campus is divided into its main upper campus, a middle and lower campus, and a few satellite campuses, of which the Michaelis School of Fine Art and the South African College of Music form part. Students drew on the methodologies of artist/curator Mark Dion, collaborating with specialists from upper campus (entomologists, ornithologists and botanists) and Michaelis Fine Art students, to highlight its natural environment. The interventions occurred on different days, and over a two week period. A calendar was provided to stipulate event times and artwork appearances. Curated by Nina Liebenberg Participating artists: Christopher Swift, Dillon Marsh, Fritha Langerman, Thuli Gamedze, Pippa Skotnes, Alex Kaczmarek, Rone-Mari Botha, Jessica Holdengarde, Fanie Buys, Lara Reusch, Stephani Muller, Tegan Green, Evan Wigdorowitz, Mariam Moosa, C J Chandler, Adrienne Van Eeden-Wharton
  • Page 175 of the Curiosity CLXXV catalogue

    "The page presents a curated collection of images: a map from the Avian Demography Unit illustrating the distribution of the bataleur Terathopius ecaudatus along the political border, though the bateleur is more frequently found where there is no formal farming; a Ngwato child’s oxhide sandals collected by Isaac Schapera (a British social anthropologist who worked in South Africa and Botswana); a compass; the identification documents of Paula Ensor (previous dean and Professor of Education), who spent time in exile in Botswana; and a Certificate of Registration necessary for movement across borders, all of which are overlaid on top of a large map from the Afrikaans Atlas provided by Rajend Mesthrie of the Department of Linguistics and Southern African Languages that shows the Afrikaans language’s distribution. Contextualising all of these objects in relation to the large map cuts across disciplinary boundaries and illustrates the scope and impact of the colonial and apartheid regimes and their influence on immigration laws, language studies, ornithology and anthropology" (Liebenberg 2021: 193).
  • Page 135 of the Curiosity CLXXV catalogue

    "Peering into one of them could, for instance, reveal musical instruments from the South African College of Music’s Kirby collection; old wooden mathematical models of abaci and polyhedrons from the Maths department; mobiles demonstrating platonic solids made by mechanical engineering students; publications by a UCT Professor of Astronomy; a sign pointing to ward D10 from the old section of Groote Schuur Hospital; glass slides once used as a teaching aid for art history at Michaelis; bird ringing material from the Avian Demography unit; and a bottle-brush plant labelled by the son of one of the curators" (Liebenberg 2021: 179).
  • Diary of an oologist

    "In 2019, Honours in Curatorship student Nathalie Viruly, who completed her Bachelor of Social Science in Politics and Sociology, was similarly struck by the silence and loss evoked by the [Peter Steyn] collection. Viruly honed in on the moments documented in the notebooks, which capture the loss of life in the reproductive life of these birds and reveal ‘stories of avian tragedy’: Young taken by predator; 1 young accidentally killed; 2 eggs failed to hatch; 2 infertile; Chick disappeared without a trace; Eggs disappeared; Literally cooked by the [corrugated] roof; Nest empty – egg collectors? (Viruly 2018: online). Her focus on these moments in the scientific journal poignantly reveals the conflation between science and emotion and invites the viewer to re-examine hierarchies of loss" (Liebenberg 2021: 219).
  • Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning

    Cyanotype on paper. Ink on perspex. The work shows the exact positioning of the stars from J.M. Barrie’s window at 3 Adelphi Terrace, London (51°30'N 0°7'21"W), on Saturday, 19 June 1937 – the night of his death. Based on the direction of his window, I was able to locate the ‘second star to the right’ at the 45 degree angle he would have stood and viewed the night sky. Hopefully, he reached his destination, after departing the flat and traveling ‘straight on till morning’.
  • ​Navigation chart, Micronesia

    "Early Pacific seafarers did not have scientific instruments or conventional European-style maps to voyage to, and settle, the thousands of islands of Micronesia and Polynesia. Instead they used the movement of the sea, the direction of the wind, the position of the sun and stars, and the flight of birds. This is a navigation chart, obtained by Georg Irmer, the Governor of the Marshall Islands from Chief Nalu of Jaluit atoll in 1896. The strips of wood, bound by cane, represent the currents and winds, and the six small, white shells represent islands".
  • Circumference

    On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart took off from Oakland, California, on an eastbound flight around the world. It was her second attempt to become the first pilot ever to circumnavigate the globe. ​
  • Notebooks 2 – Nest Records

    "'Notebook 2 – Nest Records' is part of the Peter Steyn Collection at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology (PFIAO) at the University of Cape Town. It resides in the top drawer of a wooden cabinet that is locked and stained with nepheline. The drawer is shared with two other notebooks created by Steyn, the first from his youth, and the latter is focused on birds of prey. It lies beside a copy of Frank B. Smithe’s Naturalist’s Color Guide, a published article by Steyn, two printed documents, attached letters and an envelope of reference photographs. The subsequent drawers are filled with an array of labelled, blown, eggs. Pink. Blue. Burnt-copper. Speckled. Splattered" (Viruly 2019).
  • Prrrip-Prrrip, Tseeeep!: the silence of birds’ eggs

    "Birds are highly vocal creatures, their songs sound everyday in almost every habitat, even our concrete cities. These calls have been likened to the human capacity for speech, yet the faculty of language has, for most of history, been described as solely ‘human.’ Language forms one of several traits deployed to uphold the constructed divide between human and non-human animals. Oology – the collecting and documenting of wild bird eggs – was an obscure hobby and ‘science’ of the past. Collected eggs were pierced and ‘blown’ of their contents. The perfect shells, beautifully coloured with speckles and intricate patterns, were then placed in vast cabinet collections. Such a birds’ egg collection, collected in Southern Africa during the last half of the 20th century, forms the starting point of this exhibition. Through exploring language and communication in birds, this exhibition aims to create an affective environment for re-evaluating the collecting practices of the past (with its ties to the Euro-Western, human-centered perspective), and for re-imagining current natural history collections. It also aims to … poo-too-eee poo-too-eee, pa-chip-chip-chip per chick-a-ree. Ka-ha, ka-ha, kuh-uk-uk-uk! caw-caw-caw-caw-koodle-yah, loooooo-eee! Pa-chip-chip-chip, per-chick-a-ree!" Wall text of exhibition, Prrrip-Prrrip, Tseeeep!: the silence of birds’ eggs
  • Bataleur egg

    Situated in a locked bespoke cabinet in the Niven Library in UCT’s Percy Fitzgerald Institute of African Ornithology, this Bataleur eagle egg is part of a collection of eggs donated by the ornithologist Peter Steyn in 2007. Collected between 1961 and 1977, when Steyn spent time in Zimbabwe, the egg is a link to the iconic stone carved Zimbabwe Birds which once stood proudly on guard atop the walls and monoliths of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe, believed to be built between the 12th and 15th centuries by ancestors of the Shona. The overall shape of the birds suggests that of a bateleur eagle – a bird of great significance in Shona culture. The bateleur or chapungu is a good omen, the symbol of a protective spirit and a messenger of the gods.
  • Chapunga - The day Rhodes fell

    The character Msezane is portraying depicts the statue of the Zimbabwe bird that was wrongfully appropriated from Great Zimbabwe by the British colonialist Cecil Rhodes. It currently sits in his Groote Schuur estate.
  • What UCT is not telling its first years

    On the 19th of January 2015, an article appeared in the Cape Argus titled 'What UCT is not telling its first years' written by Dr Siona O’Connell, a staff member of the Centre for Curating the Archive, and lecturer at the university. In it she wrote about the absence of transformation in the university, evident in its lack of black academic staff, describing the campus as "mired in unarticulated tensions and divisions, many of them pivoting on race” and “guarded by the Rhodes Memorial – a significant imperialist edifice” that continues to shadow it “in many overt and covert ways” "(O’Connell 2015). In the article she pinpoints that even though, as first years, they will most certainly be greeted by the statue of Cecil John Rhodes overlooking the rugby field during their tour of the campus, their chances of being taught by a black professor during the full span of their degree, will be incredibly slim…
  • Canary

    Sentinel species are used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warning of a danger. The idea of placing warm-blooded animals in a mine to detect carbon monoxide was first proposed by the Scottish physiologist John Scott Haldane in 1913. Canaries (Serinus canaria ) were considered the best sentinel animals for detection of dangerous gases because they were found to be more sensitive than other species evaluated (Pollock 2016:386-387).
  • Flight

    A chorus of juvenile heartbeats affected by Atrial Septal (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus(PDA), and Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS), transposed to a higher frequency to simulate birdsong
  • An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump

    In Joseph Wright’s 'An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump' (1768), he depicts the re-enactment of Boyle’s famous experiment. Contrary to the restricted viewing of this experiment in the confines of Gresham College by the gentleman of the Royal Society, this audience includes a variety of individuals of different ages and gender, exhibiting a mixture of emotions: a young girl worriedly watches the fate of the bird, while another is comforted by her father, seemingly too upset to view the rest of the experiment; a young boy and middle-aged man look on with absorption, while two young lovers only have eyes for each other; lastly an old man meditates on a skull in a jar, and the scientist stare out at the viewer, and not at the experiment.
  • Modest_ Witness@Second _Millenium

    Boyle's 'New Experiments Physico-Mechanical Touching the Spring of the Air', which describes experiments with an air-pump, recounts a demonstration attended by high-born women at which small birds were suffocated by the evacuation of the chamber in which the animals were held. Since the ladies interrupted the experiments by demanding that air be let in to rescue a struggling bird, Boyle reported that “to avoid such difficulties, the men later assembled at night to conduct the procedure and attest to the results” (Haraway 2004: 232).
  • Heart of Cape Town Museum

    "Dear Dr Chris, please tell me how to do a heart transplant". I want to do it to two birds that I have caught. My brother and father own the ELIM Butchery Strand.
  • Wings

    512 lasercut hands derived from images of healing: 2500 BC - 2000 AD.
  • Heart of Cape Town Museum

    Christiaan Barnard did forty-eight trial transplants with dogs before he undertook such an operation with a human being.
  • Bird Mark 7 Respirator

    Dr. Bird invented a number of popular medical devices that were used to care for patients with breathing problems. During WWII he served in the Army Air Corps where, in addition to training and transport assignments, he studied aircraft and respiratory and cardiovascular problems at high altitude. Two devices that he produced during the war went into the design of his first commercial ventilator, the Mark 7 Respirator. Dr. Bird’s respirators and anesthesia ventilators have been used during many of the first human surgical procedures. Among these were the first open heart procedure and the first liver transplant.
  • Amelia's letter

    Amelia Earhart sat down on the morning of February 7th, 1931, and penned this letter to her publicist and future husband, George Putnam: "Please let us not interfere with the others’ work or play, nor let the world see our private joys or disagreements. In this connection I may have to keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinements of even an attractive cage".
  • Earhart's pilot license #6017 photo

  • The Sea Birds of Isabella

    Aired between 1968 and 1976, 'The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau' was a documentary television series about underwater marine life. It was directed by Alan Landsburg and hosted by French filmmaker, researcher, and marine explorer Jacques Cousteau. In the 33rd episode of the series, titled 'The Sea Birds of Isabella', the crew journeys off the coast of Mexico to an island to study its tropical birds. ​Three years after it was shown, Cousteau's son, Phillipe (then aged 38) died trying to land his seaplane, called the Flying Calypso, on the Taos River in Portugal.
  • Murmeration

    Heart murmurs are sounds – such as whooshing or swishing – made by turbulent blood in or near the heart. ​When doctors listen to a child's heart, what they usually hear is a simple rhythm: "lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub..." Sometimes, they'll hear an extra sound in between the lub and the dub. That extra sound is called a heart murmur. Heart murmurs can be harmless or abnormal. In the case of the latter, it is usually the result of abnormal blood flow through the heart caused by a heart valve not working properly.
  • Amelia

    "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait." On July 2, 1937 Model 10 Electra 1055 piloted by Amelia Earhart with navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae Airfield, New Guinea and was never seen again. Earhart's last radio message was estimated to be within 200 miles of her destination Howland Island. Burn holes made with a magnifying glass on a handkerchief which corresponds to the positioning of the stars as observed from the place, date and time Amelia Earhart sent her last broadcast.
  • Amelia (detail)

    "We are on the line 157 337. We will repeat this message. We will repeat this on 6210 kilocycles. Wait." On July 2, 1937 Model 10 Electra 1055 piloted by Amelia Earhart with navigator Fred Noonan took off from Lae Airfield, New Guinea and was never seen again. Earhart's last radio message was estimated to be within 200 miles of her destination Howland Island. Burn holes made with a magnifying glass on a handkerchief which corresponds to the positioning of the stars as observed from the place, date and time Amelia Earhart sent her last broadcast.
  • Flight

    A chorus of juvenile heartbeats affected by Atrial Septal (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD), Patent Ductus Arteriosus(PDA), and Aortic Valve Stenosis (AVS), transposed to a higher frequency to simulate birdsong
  • The Lost Boys

    After they left Neverland, Mr and Mrs Darling adopted the Lost Boys. Before they had attended school a week they saw what goats they had been not to remain on the island; but it was too late, and they settled down to being as ordinary as “you or me or Jenkins minor” (Barrie 1989: 180). It is sad to say that the power to fly gradually left them. “At first Nana tied their feet to the bedposts so that they should not fly away in the night; and one of their diversions by day was to pretend to fall off buses; but by and by they ceased to tug at their bonds in bed, and they found that they hurt themselves when they let go of the bus. In time they could not even fly after their hats. Want of practice, they called it; but what it really meant was they no longer believed” ( Barrie 1989: 180-181).
  • Touching both walls at the same time

    As a young sculptor working in the 1960s, Horn suffered severe lung damage from working with fiberglass and polyester, and spent long periods convalescing in hospital. Whilst restricted to her hospital bed, Horn devised a series of wearable sculptures or 'body extensions' which she would later make using cloth, wood, bandages, belts, feathers, and found objects. Her masks and extensions contain, constrain, and/or elongate the bodies of their wearers.
  • Icarus

    Perspex wings with histology slides. Histology slides are prepared by taking a sample of biological tissue and fixing it to preserve the tissue in as natural a state as possible and prevent postmortem decay. The tissue is immersed in a chemical fixative and then embedded in wax to make it hard enough to cut into very thin sections of tissue (usually 5 to 7 micrometers in thickness). It is then passed through baths of solvents which remove the wax, then through graded alcohols, water and finally through baths of haematoxylin and eosin to stain it for better viewing under a microscope.
  • Electrocardiograph of first heart transplant

    “The ventricular peaks would shoot up as in wild flight, and their intermediate planes would begin to jumble against one another like the sudden crashing of cars on a freight-train. The heart’s beautiful symmetry would then be reduced to an erratic green line of wild jerks until it entered the final isoelectric phase resembling a sawtooth – jagged lines of the heart seeking to rise like a dying bird, fluttering upward, only to fall once again onto its flat plane of death” (Barnard in Young 2002: 79-80).
  • Denise Darvall

    "During the first heart transplant a shift occurred in the heart of Denise Darvall, the young brain-dead car accident victim whose family had allowed her heart to be given up. In his account of the operation, Barnard writes how her heart’s life fluid returned from the lungs – how many million times had it happened? – but different this time, void of oxygen. How her heart would react, at first, as if meeting only a small inconvenience. Unaware of what was happening, it would simply pump more excitedly – expecting some relief. Yet this would never come, and it would fall back in the first wave of confusion and fatigue. Barnard equates Darvall's heart with a bird trying to take flight" (Liebenberg 2011: 107-108).
  • SP-368 Biomedical Results of Apollo

    Electrocardiograph signal received at Mission Control during various periods of the Apollo 11 mission
  • Moon landing

    "FIZZY LIFTING DRINKS, it said on the next door. ‘Oh, those are fabulous!’ cried Mr Wonka. ‘They fill you with bubbles, and the bubbles are full of a special kind of gas, and this gas is so terrifically lifting that it lifts you right off the ground just like a balloon, and up you go until your head hits the ceiling – and there you stay.’ ‘But how do you come down again?’ asked little Charlie. ‘You do a burp, of course,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘You do a great big long rude burp, and up comes the gas and down comes you! But don’t drink it outdoors! There’s no knowing how high up you’ll be carried if you do that. I gave some to an old Oompa-Loompa once out in the backyard and he went up and up and disappeared out of sight! It was very sad. I never saw him again.’ ‘He should have burped,’ Charlie said. ‘Of course he should have burped,’ said Mr Wonka. ‘I stood there shouting, “Burp, you silly ass, burp, or you’ll never come down again!” But he didn’t or couldn’t or wouldn’t, I don’t know which. Maybe he was too polite. He must be on the moon by now’” (Dahl 1974: 95).
  • The Eagle has landed (Apollo 11 Lunar Module Ascent Stage Photographed from Command Module)

    The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) during rendezvous in lunar orbit. The Lunar Module (LM) was making its docking approach to the CSM. Astronaut Michael Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the lunar surface. The large, dark-colored area in the background is Smyth's Sea, centered at 85 degrees east longitude and 2 degrees south latitude on the lunar surface (nearside). This view looks west. The Earth rises above the lunar horizon.
  • Avoided Object

    Photographs of the sky above the Imperial War Museum taken with the camera that belonged to Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz
  • Scientific atlases

    "Used from the 18th to the 20th centuries, the scientific atlases provided, for example, simplified, generalised and idealised versions of the objects of anatomy, physiology, botany, palaeontology and astronomy, to name a few, guiding the student and practitioner to what was worth looking at, how it looked and, perhaps most important of all, how it should be looked at (Daston & Galison 2007:23). The establishment and representations of these working sets of objects, and the standardised procedures for studying them, thus extended the initial influence exercised on the individual traveller in the field. By controlling the very act of seeing and by creating a sense of individuals working as members of academic communities, the atlases shaped the subjects and the objects of their disciplines. Processes initiated in the field and reinforced in institutions, societies and museums laid the foundation for procedures still used by the disciplinary insiders of university departments today" (Liebenberg 2021: 111).
  • Looking up

    In 'Looking up', the artist stares intently at the sky until he has attracted a group of curious bystanders to do the same (at which point he retires from the scene).
  • Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air

    "In the struggle to add the air to man's dominions, no less than in the task of opening up the unknown and the waste places of the earth's surface, 'Tabloid' medical equipment have played an important part. In balloon, airship and aeroplane, they have been, and are being, used by men whose initiative , resource and daring we owe it, that today the 'conquest of air' is no longer a vision but a reality" (BWC 1934: 12).
  • Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air

    "In the struggle to add the air to man's dominions, no less than in the task of opening up the unknown and the waste places of the earth's surface, 'Tabloid' medical equipment have played an important part. In balloon, airship and aeroplane, they have been, and are being, used by men whose initiative , resource and daring we owe it, that today the 'conquest of air' is no longer a vision but a reality" (BWC 1934: 12).
  • Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by BWC would be useful.

    Situations in which a Tabloid medicine chest made by Burroughs Wellcome and Co. would be useful. Colour process print, ca. 1909. The Tabloid medicine chests were distributed free to well known explorers such as H.M Stanley and Ernest Shackleton. The word 'tabloid' was coined by the firm of Burroughs Wellcome and registered as a trademark.
  • Amelia

    Amelia Earhart explaining her flight and the welcome she received
  • Murmeration

    A short film that follows the journey of two girls in a canoe on the River Shannon and how they stumble across one of nature's greatest phenomenons; a murmuration of starlings.
  • Touching both walls at the same time

    As a young sculptor working in the 1960s, Horn suffered severe lung damage from working with fiberglass and polyester, and spent long periods convalescing in hospital. Whilst restricted to her hospital bed, Horn devised a series of wearable sculptures or 'body extensions' which she would later make using cloth, wood, bandages, belts, feathers, and found objects. Her masks and extensions contain, constrain, and/or elongate the bodies of their wearers.
  • Crows on the playground (The Birds)

    Melanie (Tippi Hedren) smokes as flocks of crows quietly gather on the school playground behind her.
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