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Jan Peter Hammer, Tilikum, 2013–15, HD video, color, sound, 45 minutes.

Jan Peter Hammer

Supportico Lopez

Jan Peter Hammer, Tilikum, 2013–15, HD video, color, sound, 45 minutes.

Taking us from the Skinner box to the present-day tourist attraction SeaWorld Orlando, Jan Peter Hammer’s film Tilikum, 2013–15, shot on HD video, was the ambitious centerpiece of this exhibition. It tells the story of the past century through the lens of the ethical complexities of human–animal relations, but it begins in the recent past, with a black screen and the recording of a 911 call made when the orca (or, less scientifically, “killer whale”) after which the piece is named drowned his trainer in full view of spectators in Orlando in 2010. She was Tilikum’s third victim.

The arc from the punishment-and-reinforcement mechanisms of B. F. Skinner’s “operant conditioning”—first tested in his famous box, evoked in grainy black-and-white footage of a similar experiment—to the food deprivation and isolation by which animals like Tilikum are induced to perform tricks for

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