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Running Time: 58 min (approx)
Director, Writer and Producer: Etienne De France
Tales of a Sea Cow is a documentary describing how a team of scientists has achieved the first ever decoding of animal communication.
For the first time in history, they translated the song of a marine mammal – the Steller’s sea cow- a species which was thought extinct since 1768, until its rediscovery in 2007, along the coasts of Greenland.
Following the scientists in Greenland and Iceland during the frustrating and exciting moments of a long and difficult research that becomes slowly a quest, we witness that the rediscovery of this species and the decoding of their songs have revealed striking results: the content of the decoding consists in lists and databases containing references to human technological activity.
Tales of a Sea Cow is a documentary featuring a unique dialog with scientists, inspiring us to think about the similarities and differences between scientific methodologies and imaginary. Tales of a Sea Cow is not only a documentary but also a metaphorical work, commenting on our relationship to nature, a metaphor about interpreting nature and anthropomorphism.
The concept of the documentary is inspired by real scientific studies and techniques such as the article entitled Information Entropy of Humpback Whales Songs, published by Ryuji Suzuki, John R. Buck and Peter Tyack in 2005. One of the authors, the scientist John R. Buck (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) has accepted since 2009 to be a scientific advisor for the development of the project.
Tales of a Sea Cow is a project mixing reality and fiction, art and science. The feature documentary is part of a larger multimedia project (installations, scientific instruments and sculptures, photograph and video), which is shown as well in galleries and museums. The first presentation of the project in its whole ensemble is held in Parco Arte Vivente contemporary art centre, in Torino, Italy.