Rachel Kate Couper
Animal Showcase
An architectural history of early zoological gardens
Zoo-A-Trope reflects on the discomfort of engaging with the practice of exhibiting animals in captivity for human benefit and entertainment, in order to undertake the research required for Animal Showcase. The installation echoes the form of a zoetrope, an 1830s animation device developed to capture motion before the advent of film. Named after the Greek words for life (zoe) and turning (tropos), the device was also known as the Wheel of Life. Zoo-A-Trope draws on this to create an interplay between connotations of freedom evoked by the ‘wild’ animals on display (motion) against the reality of caged captivity (stop).