Excerpt for presentations-online version
From Laurent Dubreuil
Our goal is to document the personal relationships developed by human and nonhuman apes across the barrier species. Written and cinematographic fictions on the encounter between humans and other great apes abound. While the source of inspiration for such works is often found in traditional mythologies, in research led in labs, or in observations in “the wild,” first-person narratives about what it means for chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and humans to live and work together are largely lacking. A banal reason for this absence is that relatively few people have been operating in an interspecies environment of this kind. But there is also—and mainly—a question of mediation: how could one describe the emotional and existential content of such an experience, and all the more so if language is exchanged between “animals” and “humans?” Scientific communication does not provide the right forum for descriptions of the sort. Memoirs, while interesting, are often muted by collaborations between the experiencer and the co-author or editor. Journalism is too often dominated by sensationalism.
This project consists in collecting testimonies through video recordings. Despite a clear difference in both content and scale, a good model for what we seek to achieve is the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, located at Yale University. Our video testimonies are not legal documents; and they are not replacing scientific publications. But they represent aspects the life of humans with nonhuman apes, as it was received and perceived by participants.
This 9-minute excerpt includes snippets of some of the interviews conducted in 2018 with Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, Connie Casey, Jan Van Hooff, Liz Rubert-Pugh, and Wayne Blue.