University of Tasmania
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Food for thought : a visual investigation of the nature-culture dichotomy as manifested in 'farm' animals

posted on 2023-05-27, 14:43 authored by Yvette WattYvette Watt
The project has involved the production of artworks that explore our relationship to 'farm' animals within increasingly urban Western societies. The investigation proposes that farm animals, whose form is continuously changed by human intervention, bridge the nature-culture dichotomy, as they are seen simultaneously as natural and 'man-made'. The issues were approached through analysis and quotation of popular forms of representation of farm animals such as plastic models and photographs. These objects and images, which inform our understanding of and relationship to these animals from an early age, manifest the transformation of the animal from nature to culture. The use of secondary sources of imagery also allowed for explorations of the relationship between depiction and understanding, whereby the manner in which the animal is represented might be seen to reflect a society's attitudes towards the animal. The objective resulted in a suite of works that reflect the complexity of this dichotomy and the conventions on which it is based. This research has as its background an abiding interest in human-animal relationships and the representation of animals in art and popular culture; and reflects a specific concern about urban societies' growing distance from, and attendant ignorance of, the lives of farmed 'food' animals. The research also acknowledges the long tradition of animal painting; a tradition that has for some time been relegated to a lowly position within the hierarchy of important subject matter for artists. It is argued in the exegesis that, although there has been something of a resurgence of interest in animals as subject matter within contemporary art, this interest rarely extends to farm animals. The project seeks to redress this imbalance through art works that encourage the viewer to question their understanding of these animals and their relationship to them. The final body of work is in the form of oil paintings based on photographs of crude, mass-produced plastic models of farm animals. The layered artificiality of these paintings of mutant-looking models reflects the described, detached, objectified human/farm-animal relationship while also alluding to the continual modification of the form of these animals through selective breeding and genetic engineering.


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Copyright 2003 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MFA)--University of Tasmania, 2003. Includes bibliographical references

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