Through examining the shift from the literary representation of the horse, to its depiction by puppets, to the cinematic “real” bodies onscreen in the production development of the film War Horse, this essay suggests that performance offers an imaginative space that can enable us to reconceptualize the interspecies relationships between the human and the nonhuman. It examines these performance spaces alongside technological developments that have revolved around the bodies of animals, interweaving the move in military developments from the live horse, to the tank, to the animal-shaped drone/robot. Tracing an interspecies reliance between humans and animals that has its roots in mechanical representations of animals, such as automata and the early cinematic exploration of animal bodies, the essay raises questions about the possibilities of performance to foster more collaborative interchanges between human and nonhuman animals. The reliance upon animal bodies in historical and current military development, such as DARPA’s hummingbird drone and Cheetah robot, have allowed technologized “animals” to replace humans in extreme situations, while engagement with the animal through the puppet form, despite its absence, reminds us of its presence.


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pp. 373-393
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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