Spheniscus Sinensis Sinteticum
My work during the Above Below Ground residency with Mark Dion and Amy Yoes was based on the reconstruction of a pseudoscientific history in which the object under consideration might have appeared to be a simple inflatable figure inside an Antarctic Museum in Siena. What sparked my curiosity was a Chinese-made inflatable plastic penguin I had found, within a structure containing scientific discoveries of worldwide interest. The appearance of the specimen of sfeniscidae is realistic, yet the penguin itself belongs to no known species existing in nature. In my opinion, visual impoverishment results from the broadcast of data over the internet and through the media, providing us with in nite information full of truth and falsehood, which we accept indiscriminately without ever doubting. This process has nulli ed our perceptive ability with regard to images, and consequently it becomes entirely legitimate for us to come across a penguinesque version of a blow-up doll in a place of scienti c research.
I explored the theme in ever greater depth, starting with a study of the 17 species existing within the Animal Kingdom, adding then the discovery of the eighteenth with the scienti c name of Spheniscus Sinensis Sinteticum, commonly known as the China Penguin (thanks to help from Dr. Silvia Olmastroni). Spheniscus concerns the longitude where the China Penguin is found; sinensis means “of Chinese origin”; sinteticum, because the material is a petroleum-based synthetic.