Practice-Based Research Project, 2021
Figure 1: “Embodied Database” (together with Yannick Westphal) We programmed a server to scrape masses of animal-tracking data from the servers of a large international supermarket chain. We not only archive this “body-data” but visualise it through a Hertzsprung-Russell-diagramme, creating a star-system and maybe even an animal cemetery for the animals who died during the age of factory farming. The website launches in July 2021.
As Philo and MacLachlan have diagnosed, topics of “animal death” have remained on the fringes of scholarship in new animal geographies1. The same may be true for the field of art, where the urge to follow certain (capitalist) trends tends to be even stronger.
With this project I have chosen to investigate domestic animals‘ im/mobilities, including cultural practices of hauling, dropping, transporting and being transported, and how these processes manifest or get distorted in streams of digital data. For this, I am working together with animal rights activists, sharing and exchanging objects, documents, and oral knowledge. Furthermore, I am exploring these spaces “concealed in the graceful distance of miles”2, through e.g. sensory walks around slaughterhouses or by recording the voices of pigs loaded on a truck with specialised equipment. Another relevant part is an ethnographic approach to practises, thoughts and – sometimes strange – visions of the people working for the industry, including a large amount of so far untouched archival material.
Figure 2: “Closure of Openings” (Excerpt) This work analyses the remaining (mobile) structures that connect the industry’s living animals with the outer world – animal transport trucks. While considering both human and animal resistance, activism and the appropriation of industrial structures. Quite fittingly, a first version of the work will be published in the issue on “Animals and Migration” of one of Germany’s most reputable human-animal-studies journals, “Tierstudien”, edited by Jessica Ullrich and Frederike Middelhoff.
The project will be presented in July 2021 as a room-installation at the Annual Exhibition of the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, DE.
References① Chris Philo, and Ian MacLachlan. 2018. “The Strange Case of the Missing Slaughterhouse Geographies.” In Historical Animal Geographies, edited by Sharon Wilcox and Stephanie Rutherford. Routledge Human-Animal Studies Series. Abingdon, New York: Routledge.
② Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1860. Fate. In The Conduct of Life, www.emersoncentral.com/fate.htm.