Beyond All Means of Capture

The New England cottontail is an endangered species of American rabbit. It is non-burrowing and lives in dense brush, shrubs, and young forest. Since the 1960s, the species has lost an estimated 86% of its habitat and its range has contracted to five subpopulations, separated from one another by miles of mature forests, highways, shopping malls, and housing developments. Numerous government agencies and conservation groups across six states have spent 10 years and $33 million to save the threatened species and restore its vanishing habitat.

BEYOND ALL MEANS OF CAPTURE is an artwork based on two years of research into New England cottontails and the technological systems and techniques used by wildlife management to breed, raise, track and capture rabbits.

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In May of 2019 I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Deign with a Master of Fine Arts in Digital + Media. BEYOND ALL MEANS OF CAPTURE was presented as my thesis book. The book was an anti-static bag containing a printed circuit board, a booklet, schematic and manual.

I was interested in exploring the circuit board as a narrative medium. Although the board is designed to function, it is presented without 125 surface mount devices required for it to be operational. Once assembled and programed, the board uses FM radio to transmit SSTV images related to different moments and locations in the life of a rabbit named Ear Tag #1279.

Ear Tag #1279 was born at Roger Williams Zoo in the captive breeding program. She spent three months in the hardening pen at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge before being moved to Patience Island, 200 acre home to Rhode Island’s New England cottontail breeding colony.

She was one of the first cottontails to be outfitted with a GPS collar. Each of the eight acrylic layers is etched with a timestamped coordinate and from her life on the island. When the top button is pressed a 32-second audio file is played. This audio is an encoded SSTV file with a satellite image of the GPS coordinates. She died on her sixth day on the island. She was 116 days old.