Throughout the history of philosophy, humans have defined who we are by stating what we are not. We compared ourselves to animals, and by examining differences, we separated ourselves into a higher class of being. However, the increasing trend towards the humanization of pets, and canines in particular, raises interesting questions about our society. The Other; An Ontological Examination via Animal Proxy looks at this philosophical tradition and the roles pets play in an increasingly urban community removed from the natural world.
In addition to exploring a philosophical debate, the creation of a venue specifically designed for dogs was also an investigation into why we design the way we do. All standards and practices had to be questioned and then modified for canines. This meant nothing to be taken for granted; forcing one to look at 'givens' in a new light.
The result, Ciao Chow Canine Bakery, was as much of a 'happening' as a retail store. The pop-up shop in London's Soho, opened its doors for three weeks without revealing the philosophical premise behind the experiment prompting a diverse set of reactions from both of humans and canines.
Events held at the store, for example, the canine dinner party, with human and canine entrée pairings, examined typically human traditions afresh. Drawings by Dogs (www.drawingsbydogs.com) spent an afternoon creating masterpieces with canine participants, charcoal and dog bowls at the store.
If artwork by a dog, a canine dinner party, treats & teas designed with specific health benefits in mind (growing bones, calming, restorative, etc.) seem silly or even absurd, what makes it normal for humans? And, if the answer is simply because we are human, what exactly makes us human?