MOTHER OF INVENTION: THREE PROVOCATIONS RELATING TO HUMAN DOMINATION OVER NATURE

These three works reflect on 20th Century inventions relating to food production. Drawing on actual patent application titles and their historical and contemporary uses, these works act as provocations, challenging the conflation of technology and progress. 

 

01: WILDER FUTURES

The footage for this film was taken at Knepp Estate, a former mixed farm in West Sussex.  For the last twenty years the land has slowly been freed from the intensive agricultural inputs of the previous seven or so decades and has been allowed to 're-wild', massively regenerating the estate's biodiversity.  The audio is a monotonous list of 20th century patent applications, all related to the suppression of ecological systems with the aim of increasing food production. The list now seems more like a catalogue of assaults carried out against the natural environment. 

02: FIVE STARS

In the audio of this playful but serious video, actors read Amazon reviews of an insecticide called 'Bug Clear Ultra' rejoicing in its effectiveness.  This is contrasted with the footage, which is from biologist David Goulson's garden, a space where he demonstrates the joy of actively encouraging insects onto your plants. David campaigns tirelessly against widespread agricultural and domestic use of harmful neonictinoids, found in commonly used insecticides such as the one so keenly used by the reviewers. 

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03: FARM TO FORK

This book investigates 20th Century patent applications, all relating to the optimization of the transport and slaughter of farm animals. With its quaint front cover, the book mimics a child's colouring book. Rather than continuing with this cheerful farm theme for the inside pages, the artwork instead takes a darker turn, consisting of entirely of illustrations from the actual patent applications themsleves.  Thus the macabre journey from farm to fork is traced through a sequence of human inventions.

 

The book highlights the contrast between the cosy imagery used so often in the representation of farm animals with the hidden reality of their lives and deaths. The book graphically examines the relationship between human, animal and machine, a timely provocation.