See a Dog, Hear a Dog


See a Dog, Hear a Dog

17:40, Video, color, stereo, 2016, USA                                                                                                                    


Taking its title from a sound design maxim and using it as a conceit to grasp the desire for connection, this video probes the limits and possibilities of communication. In this liminal cinematic space, the fear of conscious machines is matched with a desire to connect with nonhuman entities. Algorithms collaborate and improvise. Dogs obey/disobey human commands, displaying their own artistry and agency in the process. Technology, from domesticated animals to algorithmic music to chat rooms, reflects human desires but has its own inventiveness. Can we ever truly communicate with a machine, with a nonhuman animal, with each other? Our anthropomorphic tendencies, our fear of replacement by nonhuman forms, even our interpersonal limitations, can’t foreclose the possibility of connection and understanding, a great unknown sometimes called trust. (JM)

With YouTube dog videos, chatbot dialogue windows, and iTunes visualizer among other sources, See a Dog, Hear a Dog—McLean’s latest analytic tragicomedy of infinite human desire and finite technological capacity—considers the deficits and surpluses produced by attempts at communication among humans, animals, and machines; both directly and as mediated by one another. (Colin Beckett)


Projections, New York Film Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Transmediale, Berlin; Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Scotland