Mirror Test, 2019 (excerpt)

Projections: Artists In The Cinema Commission 2020 http://projections.org.uk/artistsinthecinema Jackdaw With Machine, essay on Mirror Test by Filipa Ramos http://projections.org.uk/jackdaw-with-machine The ‘mirror test’ is a behavioural science experiment in which an animal is presented with a mirror to see if they…

Projections: Artists In The Cinema Commission 2020 http://projections.org.uk/artistsinthecinema
Jackdaw With Machine, essay on Mirror Test by Filipa Ramos http://projections.org.uk/jackdaw-with-machine

The ‘mirror test’ is a behavioural science experiment in which an animal is presented with a mirror to see if they recognise their own reflection, or mistake the image for another animal. Corvid birds such as magpies and jackdaws have reportedly passed this test, yet it remains uncertain if the experiment proves that an animal is self-aware.

In Mirror Test, a jackdaw explores a domestic interior, flitting between shelves and disrupting kitchen counters. Images of Jacky exploring her environment are accompanied by an interview with Kerstin and Stephan Voigt, former residents of East Germany who live with the bird. Their conversation ranges from speculations on animal intelligence to ambivalent recollections of the reunification of Germany in 1990, recalling double lives within the GDR and the self-contradictions of the capitalist democracy that consumed the East.

In the cinema, the projection screen often presents us with reflections on human behaviour. The jackdaw in Mirror Test is elusive and inscrutable, yet watching her still makes us wonder about the inner life of other minds – whether human or avian.