Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Primordial. I imagine their consciousness must be like their environs, foggy and dreamlike, waiting for illumination and warmth from the coming day.
I never thought about how the fog-like look to the image might draw parallels with the bison’s consciousness. Certainly no one’s ever claimed them to possess intelligence on the level of the corvids I like to photograph. With the corvids it was both their intelligence and the body of myth and folklore that has accumulated about them that intrigued me and which I tried to portray to some degree in my more interpretative images of them. With the bison, I guess their intelligence (or lack of) isn’t at all intriguing to me–not any more than that of domestic cattle I suppose. At least bison are smart enough to know there is grass under the snow that is worth digging for.
I learned how “smart” crows were when I ventured out from my grandparents farm with a .22 in search of something to shoot when I was like 10. A murder would explode into flight as soon as you raised your piece, even at probably 150 yards. I suppose I was channeling Mitchner when I laid consciousness on the bison. In the first chapter of his novel Centennial, his main characters were an ancient ancestor to cows and buffalos before Cowboys and Indians. In their migration with the seasons they interacted in their environment- moved, fought, died, and reproduced. He allowed them consciousness but not really intelligence.
I suppose it shows the limitations of their intelligence that, just like they do with guns, corvids also fly away if you point a long telephoto lens at them. Either that or they’re equally camera and gun-shy. Certainly consciousness does not equal intelligence. Corvids and bison may be equally conscious, but certainly are not equally intelligent.
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