Seal Theory

Ruby Whitaker

Seal Theory
is an experimental collection of text, images and drawings. It explores spatial experiences, looking into the rationale behind spatial attraction and interaction through the analysis of seals as bodies of leisure. The origin of Seal Theory reflects on the beauty of seals sunbathing on the shore as their mass becomes drapery. Its relevance to the human condition is in the question of how casual activity can become critical, sublime, and how a body can find moments of paradise.

Interaction with architecture and space can be emotionally charged, and subconsciously or decidedly critical. Seal Theory is not only about cross referencing the behaviour of a seal to a human, but understanding how we are creatures of space, how life is supported and enriched by architecture, and finding the heights of architectural wonder in conditional moments of leisure.

Where the systems we live in are major, the individual is minor. Minor architecture is working within dominant contemporary trends, and finding subversion and relief. In a capital-minded system, leisure finds relief from work. Leisure allows for sublime and beautiful experiences to be encountered. Linking the habits of seals to humans is not only about finding loveliness, it is subversive to the greater constructs of a work-oriented life by valuing a minor way of being.

The way that seals drape themselves over warm rocks, succumbing to a state of leisure, is undoubtedly human in behaviour. Leisure is both something that we can plan for, look forward to, but also something that can overcome us. We are pulled down by gravity, every step is a resistance against the downward force. Sometimes it is important, and easiest, to give in to it, lie down, and become human drapery like seals on the shore.

1. Seal’s Annunciation
2. Drapes
3. Green Thoughts
4. Loungers


Ruby Whitaker is a thesis student at the University of Auckland. She is interested in architectural education and drawing-based practices. Seal Theory is a limited print project that explores the connection between seal and human behaviour within the realm of paradise.