Know Thy Neighbour #3

Table of Contents

This project outcome has to be one of the wonder­fully weird­est of my practice so far, and I feel am definitely well ex­peri­enced in presenting the strange. I think it’s fitting con­sider­ing my focus on the dog / human relationship, dogs being the silly things they are. My conclusion at the end of this is something I know deeply as a devout dog-lover and mum1 to a 3yo whippet: dogs make us more than human. Dogs also give me a break from being human. I think all pets do, that’s why we attach ourselves to them, with dogs transcending private / public space much more than other spe­cies (not including on the internet).

This project intended to map out literally, emo­tion­ally, and sensor­ially the ‘more than human’ land­scape of the City of Melville (CoM) as experi­enced by the dog/human unit. Re­search included readings on planning policies for the ‘more than human’ spaces of the built envi­ron­ment, public health / well-being and pet ownership, the pro­vision of green and exer­cise spaces in LGAs, and the walkability of sub­urban space.

  • A small-sized cream-coloured dog with a narrow head looks toward the camera while sitting in a grey dog carrier that is strapped into the front passenger seat of a car. The dog is wearing a pink collar and blue and pink harness.
    Shelly riding shotgun.
  • Artist Amy Perejuan-Capone is sitting cross-legged on the grass in a park. She is wearing a yellow t-shirt and blue trousers and appears to be writing into a notebook. There is a white sculpture of a dog immediately in front of her, as well as in the distance behind her.
    Amy at dog friendly park in Melville.

The initial process was to participate in the normal routines of sub­urban dog life: walking, park play time, stop n chats/sniffs, and weak-bond social interactions (and sometimes quite philo­sophical conver­sations!) with other humans at off-leash areas. This was to acclimate myself and my collab­orator Shelly (whippet) to the dog exercise spaces of CoM and their regular visitors. Initially I didn’t have a car so this was tricky, necessi­tating UberPet rides to a central location and attempting to link dog-friendly green spaces on foot. After getting a car we would target particular spots further afield, sacrificing some human exercise and interaction but gaining con­venience and variety in the process.

These experiences I came to call ‘doggy dia­lec­tics’ after the open back and forth play and butt-sniff circling of the dogs and the inter­actions bet­ween humans at the dog park or on the street. Being neurodivergent myself I enjoy how these in­ter­actions delineate or simplify certain social rules and eti­quette whilst delivering manageable doses of unpredict­ability, chaos, and bonus social points. After months of this passive research I designed formalised activities to gather materials and foster experiences to culminate in (at that stage) some unknown crea­tive outcome. I had folks draw maps of their neigh­bour­hood dog walks emphasising memory and the senses of smell/sound/touch, and ran a ceramics workshop making low-relief sculp­tures that triggered tactile memories of partici­pants’ pets. At the grand open day of CoM’s first fenced off-lead play park for dogs at Piney Lakes I gather­ed dog volunteers to wear GoPro cameras to cap­ture the action from their perspective. And finally I filmed Shelly and her favourite playmate scrapping around using an infra-red camera, cap­turing the heat signatures of the dogs, their sha­dows, and even their warmth left be­hind on the ground.

  • A scanned image of a coloured pencil drawing featuring a top-down view of a neighbourhood block. There are houses, trees, flowers, and various park features along the three visible streets. A flag in the middle has the text “Rock the block” in capital letters. On the bottom right of the drawing is the phrase “I used to be cool” in capital letters and enclosed in a circle.
    Participant drawing of neighbourhood map. Image courtesy of Amy Perejuan-Capone.
  • A medium-sized tan-coloured dog is looking away from the camera, appearing to be sniffing towards the top right. They are connected to a lead being held by a person in a black jumper and army green shorts, and have a small action camera strapped to their back. A person in a khaki shirt is leaning towards the dog. There are two other dogs just slightly in view in front and behind the dog.
    Grand open day of the first fenced off-lead play park for dogs at Piney Lakes, Melville. Image courtesy of Ana Palacios.

How to synthesise these materially disparate ele­ments for any kind of public presentation? I like organising things into holistic ‘containers’ of detail, story, and stimuli. These elements were all so rich in memories, feeling, and visual or tactile wonder. The main threads connecting my Know Thy Neighbour acti­vities were mapping and perception of space, so the digital realm seemed obvious! Working with Jamie Sher of Spacescan3D, we created a totally absurd collation of all these visual elements and plenty of free-form digital jamming. And of course it needed to be tactile, so I made a custom joystick con­troller and the Shelly Telly itself: a screen unit that ref­eren­ces wonderfully weird 1970’s television design, a time when screens were sculptural objects. The unit is paint­ed in the colours visible to dogs and decorated with casts of the tactile pet portrait work­shop participants ceramics. The console and game soundscape also reference nostalgic vintage video games as a reflection on the ‘real-world’ simplicity of being out in the sun­shine with your dog.

Gameplay footage of ‘Shelly Telly’ by Amy Perejuan-Capone, made in collaboration with Jamie Sher.

The Shelly Telly is presented on a plush rug and the users can sit on fluffy ottomans and touching the console is encouraged. The game is open-ended and exploratory, a useless map only vaguely refer­encing ‘real’ space, but evoking the free-flow of dog play. The nature of the visual elements pro­vided by work­shop participants to me seem uni­versally evo­cative of memory, and hopefully en­courage the player to reflect upon their own multi-sensory and multi-temporal navigation of space in their daily lives, without or without a doggo.

  • A boxy unit shaped like a vintage television set consisting of a digital monitor fitted into a custom wooden box with legs sits in the middle of a darkened room. There is a plush grey circular rug in front of this box, with two white round ottomans on it. A wired black console with red and white buttons rests on top of the left ottoman, and is connected to the custom screen box. To the right of this setup is some white ceramic pieces on black plinths.
    Installation at UWA Cullity Gallery.
  • The side profile of a boxy wooden unit shaped like a vintage television set. There is an assortment of white and grey casts stuck to its side.
    The ‘Shelly Telly’ unit decorated with casts made by participants of the tactile pet portrait workshop.
  • Close-ups of three white unglazed ceramic pieces. The one closest to the camera has a raised pattern of a plant on it. To its left is a small sculpture of a dog’s head. The third piece on the right has a less discernible raised pattern.
    Ceramics made by participants of the tactile pet portrait workshop. Images by Emma Daisy.

Amy Perejuan-Capone


1: I deliberately use such parental language for my inter-species relation­ship as I think it better encapsulates the loving but unbalanced power dynamic between dog and human than simply ‘companion’ and not as ick as ‘owner’.

Amy Perejuan-Capone

Amy Perejuan-Capone works between Fremantle, the Perth hills, and inter­national residencies. With a back­ground in art and design, Perejuan-Capone’s practice is underpinned by an enquiry into the sys­tems of exchange that are present through the acquisition and appli­cation of craft. Across broad mediums including ceramics, textiles and metalworks, she seeks to understand objects, mate­rials and the net­works of social and cultural agency held within them. In recent years Perejuan-Capone has collab­orated with her father to investigate their multi-generational connection to aviation.

Perejuan-Capone is the recipient of numerous resi­dencies, including Asialink Taipei/Fremantle Exchange, Taiwan (2020); Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Centre, Shigaraki, Japan (2019); and Upernavik Museum, Greenland (2017).

Recent solo exhibitions and commissions include Sky Cave for the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Don’t Stare at the Sun/for Too Long, PS Art Space, Fremantle (2019); This is How We Walk on the Moon, Artsource Old Customs House, Fremantle (2018); and One Word for Snow, TRANSART temporary public art program, City of Perth (2017).