Collaboration: co-creating with an entity like the wind, sun, water, or earth. Co-creating with a living being while being respectful and adhering to ethical principles of non-harm and consent. How can one share authorship with others?  Can collaboration open up possibilities for better relations and understanding? 


UC Santa Barbara instructor Lisa Jevbratt explains that

by introducing the term collaboration into our work with animals, be it artistic or scientific, we are compelled to acknowledge their agency and personhood, thereby making it much harder and more ethically complex to put animals through the suffering we do today. Instead of using animals for our personal and professional gain, we need to invite them to be our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual partners in a quest for a sustainable environment for all of us to thrive within (17)

Using this ethic as the heart of Jevbratt's class in interspecies collaboration she's taught since 2006, she has seen various forms arise in her students' attempts at collaborative projects. These have come in the shape of "protocol" and "rule systems" that operate in reaction to an Other's actions in which "sharing a common agenda is not important…nor does one have to know or understand the intention of one's collaborators"; "interference patterns" in which moments of overlapping awareness and acknowledgement are marked; and "communication" using "sensations in our bodies" and sending "information back to them via images." This framework offers some means with which thinking and working collaboratively can be initiated.

While Jevbratt focuses on nonhuman animals, opening the door to this potential can also include other environmental elements and beings like fungi, plants, minerals, water, fire, and wind. These collaborators may offer slightly less ethical pressures, but also can work to build a sense of respect and appreciation towards the natural world and its agency.



Jevbratt, Lisa. "Interspecies Collaboration- Making Art Together with Nonhuman Animals." July 2009.


More Resources:

Becky Bair: Collaboration with the Sun