VASTAL: Animal Enrichment Lab and Lecture

Animal Enrichment is a practice of increasing the quality of life for animals that are not in their natural environment. From the simple concept of enrichment a wide variety of ideas can arise. Animal Enrichment is a design process that may alleviate some of the burdens of the everyday being in the space of captivity.  Animal enrichment is a novel way to understand animal behavior and reveal the complexity of animal consciousness in a partnership with the animal being researched. Creative artists, especially those trained in interactive technology and audio-visual avenues of expression, may be more able than most to lend their talents to the animal world. If you should choose to take this mission, it will be your job to create devices that emulate the mysteries that animals might have encountered on an everyday stroll through the vastly disparate climes of our mega-divergent planet.

We will design devices to:
- Elicit play
- Simulate control of the environment by the animals
- Reduce stress

We will design devices to:
- Show animal individuality
- Show animal group dynamics
- Show animal problem solving
- Show quality and integrity of animal consciousness

These devices will be both high tech and low tech.

The general Public, Electronic Artists and students of varied disciplines (i.e. Biology, Conservation Ecology, Science and Technology Studies, Psychology, Performance, Sculpture, Documentary Cognitive Science and Philosophy) can explore their own ideas and ideals about life on the planet. We will conceive of and create tools that accentuate the essential urge to play and explore that defines vitality.

With:  Koen van Mechelen  and  Kees van Oers