MSR: Eurasian Magpie, Cockatiel, Hummingbird

November 10th, 2016 § 1 comment

We uses mirrors to understand reality, ourselves and animals. In 1970, Gordon G. Gallup developed the mirror self-recognition test (MSR) to determine if humans were the only beings with a concept of self. Animals were presented with a mirror before and after their skin was marked with a red dot. If an animal interacted with the red dot on itself, the test indicated it understood the mirrored image belonged to his or her own body. The only bird with this ability is the eurasian magpie.



What is interesting about the study on magpies is the discovery that self-recognition does not necessarily reside in the neocortex area of the brain. Unlike mammals, magpies do not have a neocortex and have independently evolved their impressive cognitive abilities.
We measure intelligence and consciousness according to our own cognitive capabilities and vision, our primary sense. A mirror is only the skin of reality. In this series, I adorn a mirror with narcissi, or daffodils. Its namesake is shared with the word, narcissism, and Narcissus, a hunter from Greek mythology who fell in love with his own reflection.
Among the daffodils, a bird gazes into its own reflection. In our interpretation, however, the bird cannot see itself. In my series, the skin is covered with the silver peel of a mirror, effectively erasing the bird’s face and body in the reflection. Animal minds and their experience of reality are as mysterious as the realm behind a mirror. In this series, the birds escape our bias in their erasure.
*The mirror with the eurasian magpie is the only bird in the series without silver leaf because it passed the MSR.
Please check back soon as I plan to do a post featuring the birds in 360 degrees!


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