Luuk Wilmering

The professor's office

installation at SPARK BIRDS & the Loneliness of Species, Kasteel Wylre

     The installation The professor's office (2022/23) is an ode to the Dutch natural scientist Niko Tinbergen (1907-1988), who is generally seen as one of the founders of ethology: the study of animal behavior. He did pioneering work by studying the behavior of animals in their natural habitat. His approach was based on careful observations and simple, controlled experiments. His research into the function of the red spot on the beak of the herring gull is famous. Scientists wanted to know how a chick knows from the moment it hatches that it has to peck its parents' beak to find food. Tinbergen devised a simple experiment to investigate this. He made cardboard models of seagull heads and discovered that the red spot on the beak of adult herring gulls is an incentive for chicks to beg. Using variations in shape and color, he discovered which elements triggered which behavior in the chick.

     Tinbergen and Konrad Lorentz also developed a theoretical framework for the study of ethology. Their hypothesis was that instinct in animals is not an impulse based on environmental factors, but arises from their own innate impulse.

     In 1973, Tinbergen, together with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries in the field of individual and social behavior patterns in animals.