In Proposal for Resurrecting Prehistorical Mammals, Marguerite Humeau painstakingly reimagined the sonic environment of prehistoric mammals. To produce the sounds, she reconstructed the bone structures of a Mammoth’s, an Entelodont’s, and an Ambulocetus’ vocal chambers as preserved in fossil records and imagined- with the help of various scientists ranging from palaeontologists to modern throat specialists- what the long decomposed soft tissues of the different vocal tracts may have looked like. A project of historical fiction, Humeau imagines how an intangible biological past may have been, transporting deeply touching animal noises to the present.
While not explicitly biomimicry, I find it problematic when nature, understood like an objective truth external to humanity, is used as an unquestionable foundation for anything. Thomas Hobbes famously imagined a state of nature marked by chaos and violence. But this is an obvious construction of nature which gives absolute value to his particular system of order and government. Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro offers an example of how nature is unstable and can be socially mediated in different ways. He studies the ways in which Amazonian people imagine the extent of their universe, finding a glaring flip of the Euro-American way of imagining a universal nature with multiple cultures. The Amazonian people imagine a universal culture- a shared human essence of everything in their environment- to be masked by multiple natural states. Nature and culture flip places.