Becoming Psychic Fish


Becoming Psychic Fish

Public engagement with fish; from the psychic to the physical to the digital

How does how you feel about fish shape how fish get to feel?

How does the introduction and spread of different species and sites transform practices of ethical review, the 3Rs, animal care, and public engagement? Is it true that fish feel less and people feel less about what they do feel? If so how can we start conversations around which the public are ambivalent?

As part of the Species and Spaces research stream, we wanted to see if they public really do care less about fish, struggle to empathise with them and pick at the connections between public opinion and policy. Psychic Fish emerged as a way to explore these assumptions and recast the public as curious rather than ambivalent. This short film documents the iterative process of producing a Public Engagement initiative that met all these needs and more.

Despite, or perhaps, because of its disarming informality and unexpectedness, people have realised it can help them start conversations they have been trying to have for years.

Designed and Produced by Bentley Crudgington for the Species and Spaces research team for Animal Research Nexus, in collaboration with Beth GreenhoughAlly Palmer and Reuben Message. Digital coding and design from Kris Sum and Nick Wade.

We recently presented this work at a stakeholder workshop. Participants included three biomedical research scientists, one conservation biologist, one animal welfare physiologist, one animal technologist, two aquarium facility managers and one representative of an animal welfare organisation. Together we reflected on shared experiences of public engagement focused on the use of fish in animal research, including current practice, barriers to advancing engagement, opportunities and future directions, including the community use of our own Public Engagement initiative, Psychic Fish.  You can read a copy of the workshop report here.

We swapped metaphysics for psychic fishes. We wondered, if we playfully told someone how they felt about fish, it would invite them to either agree and give supporting evidence, or reject it and question why.