We’re in the middle of the Year of the Dog, so what better time to take a look at some of the great dogs you can find in the M+ Collections? We’ve got it all: happy dogs, pensive dogs, dogs on video, dogs on canvas, and even a robot dog.
‘AIBO’ Entertainment Robot Dog
by Sony Corporation
This robotic dog from the M+ Collections is called AIBO ERS-110 and is the first robotic dog toy made by Sony Corporation in 1999, designed by artist Sorayama Hajime and engineered by Doi Toshitada. It was introduced in 1999, and its enormous success helped create the market for ‘entertainment robots’.
In Japanese, aibo means ‘mate’ or ‘friend'; in English, the name is a contraction of ‘artificial-intelligence robot’. AIBO signifies the personalisation of technology and its integration into daily life, which began to accelerate around the turn of the millennium.
Although it was eventually discontinued, it was re-launched in January 2018, after eleven years, and sold out through pre-orders alone. ‘AIBO’ ERS-110 entered the M+ Collection in 2016, as part of a group of nearly 120 Japanese industrial design products.
Some unexpected events sometimes bring momentary happiness
by Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook
Some unexpected events sometimes bring momentary happiness (2009) relates to a recurring motif in Thai video artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook’s work: animals, and, more specifically, dogs. In this video, a dog runs around the yard with the artist, captured in sheer joy as he intermittently plays and rests. It’s soon evident that the dog’s hind legs are disjointed and that his running is uncoordinated. He is, in fact, paralysed: the video documents the day that he spontaneously regained control of his hind legs. At one point, his legs start to give way, but he tries to continue the frolicking nonetheless. The film ends with him standing upright, panting and relishing in the unexpected, spontaneous romp.
Dogs are regulated to a lowly status in society. Even the Thai world for dog, maa, is a derogatory term used to defame people of certain classes and races. Rasdjarmrearnsook, however, elevates the dog’s usual inferior status to one that is akin to family, underscoring the shared experiences between all living beings—ones of pleasure, sorrow, and pain.
Jinx, in Front of Hong Kong Harbour
by Holly Lee
This pensive dog sitting by Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour reflects upon the city's recent and past history as a British colony. The dog is the subject of a print that was created around 1994 by Holly Lee, who is one of Hong Kong's most distinctive photographic pioneers. This work is the first from her series known as the Hollian Thesaurus (1993–2000), bookending the period before and after the handover of Hong Kong from British rule to the Chinese government in 1997.
Lee combines the image of an English Springer Spaniel with a 19th-century painting of Victoria Harbour by the British painter George Chinnery. In adding fine lines to the work in imitation of the surface of an oil painting, Lee creates a fictional image that recalls the China-trade paintings for which Chinnery was famed.
A Basket of Eggs No. 3
by Duan Jianyu
Chinese artist Duan Jianyu is fascinated with the Western oil painting tradition. By the early 2000s, her efforts to dismantle the dignified tradition of oil painting had fully developed into a new visual style that emphasises vulgarity and crudeness in rural scenes.
A Basket of Eggs No. 3 depicts a 1950s vision of utopian peasant life. The work’s composition is reminiscent of a 1940s woodblock print by Li Qun, Listening to the Report, which follows the Western modernist tradition and depicts a female soldier nursing a baby while taking notes during the revolutionary period. A Basket of Eggs No. 3 references the subject matter but twists it with a different background, leaving room for viewers to develop their own impressions of the relationship between the mother, the dog, and the scenery. The breastfeeding, the dog, and the eggs all become a symbolic representation of continual nurturing devotion.
Other works in this series also feature the image of a peasant mother breastfeeding a baby in the presence of an animal, for example a hen, or a she-wolf breastfeeding its babies.
Untitled (Many Change Standard)
by Yang Mian
You can see that the dogs in this work are directly influenced by Zhou Fang’s famous Tang dynasty painting, Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair with Flowers (below), which presents the life of five women in the imperial courtyard. Yang Mian’s Untitled (Many Change Standard) from 1997 reframes it by replacing the court ladies with modern women he saw on the streets of Chongqing, where he worked. The painting reflects urbanisation and commercialisation in China. The dogs are updated too, representing a life of money and leisure.
This article was originally published on M+ Stories.
Ellen Oredsson is Editor, Web Content at M+.