A profound force through the evolution of human society has been the domestication of animals.
Cooperative living arrangements between Homo sapiens and other animal species have provided labor and nutrition for nomadic herding as well as settled agricultural human groups in far more substantial and efficient ways than hunting and gathering. Domesticating certain wild animals has been shaping us in ways that have enabled and directed the development of what we call “civilization.”
My introduction to the ramifications of animal domestication (such as eventual global conquest by Europeans) as well as its mysteries (why aren’t there domesticated zebras?) was in the pages of Jared Diamond‘s mind-bendingly important Pultizer prize winner, Guns, Germs, & Steel. This past winter, I was happy to notice one of my students reading a paperback copy, and enjoyed several conversations with him about Diamond’s rich view of history.
Devon, one of my most talented digital imaging students this year, graduated from college this week and is now determined to be a farmer. He’s worked internships around the world on farms that emphasize local, sustainable agricultural practices, and he’s part of a growing trend among college students to face the challenges of food production in hands-on ways.
Because of these interests, Devon was especially drawn to Diamond’s sections about agriculture and animal domestication, and I was able to recommend other reading for him on the topic. He drew from this independent research to complete the below class project, shared here on my blog with Devon’s permission.
The assignment was to choose a subject of scientific interest, research it, and design a visual communication around the findings. Devon’s choice to present contemporary industrial textures and colors as the context for an ancient timeline of animal domestication makes this a beautiful as well as interesting project.
Click the below images for a closer look.
Please note that these images are copyright © Devon Martin. Please contact me through this blog for permissions to use them.