Uncanny talking animals

Williams, Robert ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7771-2415 (2013) Uncanny talking animals. In: Dodds, Andrew and Thurston, Nick, (eds.) I, Sparkie. Information as Material, York, UK. Full text not available from this repository.

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I, Sparkie represents a rich and unusual archive relating to the life of a real budgerigar, Sparkie Williams, who was raised and trained in Newcastle, England by Mrs Mattie Williams. Between 1954-58 Sparkie came to be recognised as the world’s most famous talking animal. His vocabulary included over 500 words; he won awards and a place in the Guinness Book of Records; his voice was used on pop records and bird seed adverts; his dialect was distinctly Geordie; and his taxidermed remains have their own strange history of display. Since the late 1990s Northern Irish artist Andrew Dodds has sustained an artistic study of Sparkie’s history and the relations of that history to the natural sciences, museology, the voice, human/non-human relations and the government of ‘nature’. In his new book Dodds reveals the Sparkie archive held by the Natural History Society of Northumbria, much of which has never been reproduced before, including facsimile extracts from a typescript of Mattie Williams’s moving biography of her beloved pet. I, Sparkie also presents two invited analyses of the ‘Sparkie phenomena’ by esteemed academics John Mullarkey and Robert Williams who explore the philosophy of animal studies and some cultural mysteries of (uncanny) talking animals respectively. In the inside cover of every copy is an 18-minute audio CD of a private reel-to-reel recording of Sparkie learning to talk, transferred and abridged by the artist, that has never been publicly released. The publication opens with an extensive interview with Dodds that situates the project in a complex web of social, political, cultural and speculative histories (plural) relating the artist’s oeuvre and the crises evoked by Sparkie’s persona.

Item Type: Book Section
Publisher: Information as Material
ISBN: 9781907468179
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Fine Arts
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2014 10:56
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2024 11:15
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/1473
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