Thanks to the Belgian artist René Magritte many people know when a pipe is not a pipe. The Digital Zoo app draws inspiration from Magritte's famous illustration, applying the paradoxical "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" concept to the natural world.
The Digital Zoo app helps us to mind the gap between real animals and the animal imagery that has become so common on screens, toys, furniture, bags, clothing, and even food. Equipped with Digital Zoo app, the fake wildlife around you can quickly become part of a collaborative effort to see nature for what it is. By documenting the superabundance of commercial 'wildlife' you'll not only be adding to an online trophy collection – you'll be raising the profile of related conservation efforts. Find products that use animal likenesses and add your photos to the ones made by other digital naturalists. Via social networks the app lets you share your shots, framed like oil paintings, with captions like "Ceci n'est pas un tigre." Join the culture jamming fun, snapping photos of animal products that are reproducing faster than their wild cousins.
Today, with many familiar species at risk of extinction, Magritte's 'Treachery of Images' is relevant to the many ways that animals appear in products and media. Instead of conserving wild animals, we surround ourselves with copies. The world of images is teeming with animals, but in the service of marketing they seldom remind us of their troubles and struggles to survive extinction.
Sharing photos of animal merchandise with this app can communicate these issues. Let's show how products featuring at-risk species now out-number wild animal populations!
The app is entirely non-commercial. It was designed and produced with the assistance of a commission from Furtherfield, a U.K.-based arts organization, in cooperation with the CultureCode Initiative.
Transnational Temps, which produced the app, was commissioned in 2014 to execute a work called Mall of the Wild, part of the Digital Zoo exhibition mounted by Furtherfield in various shopping centers around the U.K. The app complements the on-site activities of Mall of the Wild, an urban safari of sorts aimed at younger audiences.