DNA sequencing has placed humans firmly within the great apes, so how do our cognitive abilities differ from those of chimpanzees? Creativity is considered to be a divide between humans and other species, but do we share basic preferences for novelty and perhaps even form and content with our closest relations? The symposium explored similarities and differences in perception, cognition and socio-emotional behaviour between humans and chimpanzees, through the perspectives of comparative psychologist Dr Sarah Jane Vick, who studies chimpanzee cognition and behaviour and artist Rachel Mayeri, whose new work Primate Cinema: Apes as Family was made with the chimpanzees at the Budongo Trail, Edinburgh Zoo.
Prof Rachel Mayeri is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work often deals with the intersection of science, art and society. Her videos combine fact and fiction, documentary and storytelling, on topics such as special effects, popular science and cultural disease. She has collaborated with primatologists, anthropologists and psychologists to study primate behaviour, making a series of films responding to these explorations.
Dr Rob La Frenais is curator at The Arts Catalyst. He has an interest in animal studies and primatology stretching back several years and this has informed a number of his recent curated projects, including Interspecies (2009) and Rachel Mayeri's Primate Cinema: Apes as at Family (2011).