About 6 years ago I was lucky enough to get to start a little company that does posters and fabrics and ribbons and so forth called “Humans.” Actually, a very kind man named Taketoshi (sweet as can be, lives in Tokyo and loves Phish) started it, and I supply the designs. It's been my dream to make work which blurs the line between what we call design and what we call art and which can be a part of people's everyday lives – posters are inexpensive, easy to own, easy to live with.
One of my favorite posters I've done is just a very simple text, sort of an introduction to the underlying tenets of animal rights. I got this text, with a little editing of my own, from Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia is an amazing phenomeon, a real intellectual “commons,” and great contribution to our public life. I found this writing so clear and succinct and beautiful, the way it simply ends up changing the way us humans have been taught to think of the world as our property, and just the simple language around granting animals full personhood - so well put. It's almost like a little contract.
This relates to Beginners as I hope Oliver (played by Ewan McGregor) is trying to understand Arthur (played by Cosmo), his inherited Jack Russell terrier, not as a “dog,” not as a cute little animal that is perhaps less than him, but as a full and mysterious person, mysterious because a dog's consciousness and intelligence is different than ours (not less than ours!). Ewan and I talked about this a lot, we both love dogs in general and we love Cosmo (the canine actor person who plays Arthur) a lot. Cosmo is so reactive to the humans around him it was quite easy to talk to him not in a cute voice, not in a talking-down voice but in the voice you might use with some intelligent alien friend who experiences the world under a wholly different sensorial paradigm.