Human Report, 2008

Digit­al video, SD 640 × 476 4:3
7:16 min.
Broad­cast at 8.26 pm on 23 May 2008, Chan­nel 9 TV, Galápagos
Filmed in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galápa­gos, Ecuador
Per­formed by Mar­cus Coates
Cam­era, sound and voice-over by Elke Hartmann
Pho­to­graphy by Elke Hartmann
Pro­duced by Galápa­gos Con­ser­va­tion Trust, Cal­ouste Gul­ben­ki­an Found­a­tion Galápa­gos Artists’ Res­id­ency Pro­gramme and Chan­nel 9 TV Galápagos

While artist-in-res­id­ence on the Galápa­gos Islands, Coates approached the fam­ily-run loc­al tele­vi­sion sta­tion, Chan­nel 9 TV Galápa­gos. He offered to make a short news report for them as an out­sider. His report was broad­cast as a news item, appear­ing between cov­er­age of a beauty con­test and the foot­ball res­ults. Dressed in his hand-made card­board cos­tume, Coates reports on the human soci­ety (pop­u­la­tion approx. 30,000) from the per­spect­ive of a blue-footed booby, an icon­ic bird of the Galápa­gos. Coates had asked research sci­ent­ists work­ing on the island what they would report about the human situ­ation if they were a vis­it­ing bird. Much of the report is informed by their responses.

[The news presenter on Galapa­gos TV intro­duces a report made by Coates as a blue-footed booby, a well known bird of the Islands]

News Desk: Wel­come back to NOTI 9 Estelar.

Presenter 1: It’s 26 minutes past 8.

Now for an import­ant news item.

The blue-footed booby is one of Galápagos’s best-known inhab­it­ants. A unusu­al example of the spe­cies is cur­rently vis­it­ing the islands, with the aim of teach­ing us a little more about how we human beings live.

Mar­cus Coates: Let’s get one thing clear. Our name is booby’ which in Span­ish means stu­pid. In Eng­lish it means a woman’s breast. You are call­ing me a stu­pid tit. We’re super­i­or to you in our flight – of course, but also when we’re swim­ming, diving, dan­cing and court­ing, to name but a few.

You are strange, com­ic­al creatures, with beau­ti­ful mark­ings. Why are some of you treated dif­fer­ently from oth­ers? Are you cat­egor­ised accord­ing to your plumage? Do some of you form a dif­fer­ent spe­cies? Some of you have more ter­rit­ory than oth­ers? Why is that? Is it because some of you are big­ger than others?

I don’t under­stand pets?

We are hon­oured with your sym­bol of a fly­ing bird. Sunken tail, wings out­stretched and beak point­ing sky­wards. I think some of you don’t like being humans but you’re no good at any­thing else. If you were anoth­er anim­al you wouldn’t sur­vive because you’ve lost your instincts.

People come to see us from far and wide. We’re fam­ous. Why does no one come to these islands to see you?

Here are a few sug­ges­tions. Why do you feed your chil­dren with the spoon when you can regur­git­ate food for them? It’s easy for them to digest and there’s no wash­ing up! You could also leave your shit lying around out­side your homes to help keep intruders away. In con­clu­sion, you are para­sites. That’s easy for an anim­al like me to under­stand. But what I don’t under­stand is why you col­on­ised these islands, which lack both water and sup­plies of food. Your sur­viv­al isn’t assured, because you find it hard to adapt to loc­al con­di­tions. It’s a pre­cari­ous kind of existence.

In any case, don’t worry. You are not in danger. I’ve seen many more like you in oth­er places. If you all die, it’ll be OK. More humans will come and start up a new breed­ing colony.

Thank you for not eat­ing me!

Presenter 1: A very nice, very unusu­al story from our vis­it­ing reporter.

Presenter 2: Abso­lutely. It was brought to us by Brit­ish artist Mar­cus Coates. The video and install­a­tion artist is vis­it­ing the islands and made this film to give us a per­spect­ive on how a blue-footed booby might com­ment on human behaviour.

Presenter 1: After the break we’ll return to our main news item. Maria Susana Rivadeneira along with one of the beauty queens tak­ing part in yesterday’s… sorry tomorrow! 

Presenter 2: He’s nervous.

Presenter 1: Those beau­ti­ful women! They’re mak­ing me nervous. We’ll be talk­ing to them very soon and enjoy­ing their beauty and find­ing out what they think about Galápa­gos. We’ll be right back.

(Tran­script excerpt)

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