Date of Submission

Spring 2017

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Art History; Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Susan Aberth

Project Advisor 2

Kenji Fujita

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Although many contemporary artists’ use of meat feels fresh and revolutionary, the appearance of meat in art is not a new phenomenon, as it dates back to early modern Dutch still lives. The attraction of meat as a medium derives from primal instinct, specifically, the relationship between consumption and copulation. The savagery associated with the deconstruction and consumption of raw meat feels equally as primitive and natural as fornication. Both are censored and simplified. Because meat is so attractive as a medium, it is used by infinitely different individuals to convey even opposite intentions. Artists’ and activists’ use meat as medium, and their work can have identical imagery, but the intentions can be completely opposite. Despite the identical imagery, the works are not necessarily misinterpreted by the audience. Appropriation, whether intentional or not, affects the intention of a work, and how audiences can distinguish between the different intentions of pieces with identical imagery. The line between appropriation and inspiration is difficult to define, particularly when it comes to identical imagery between two artworks by different artists. However, some artist’s find inspiration in the ritualistic use of meat that is evident in legends. Meat is frequently used for sacrifice, and can be easily and legally obtained with a feeling similar to the human body without being a human body. Something that once was alive has a feeling of power, which is important to ritual.

As an artist who uses meat, I had an initial struggle attempting to explain my attraction to the material, so I wanted to research and explore other artists who used meat as a means to understand my own work better. In the beginning it was difficult for me to find my medium. Working with meat proved difficult particularly due to its fleeting nature. As a result, if I were to make something that lasted, I would need to photograph it.

Working with meat, I wanted to blur the line between meat and the body, specifically my own body. Most of the photos I created include my own body in the context of meat. I was also interested in the difference between meat and a dead animal, and where exactly the transition for one to another occurs. Initially, these photographs were just a way to fulfill one idea in as many different ways as possible. Essentially, there was an ever growing list of all the ways we see meat. However, at a certain point it became tedious, and it was not going anywhere. In order to continue, I was also going to have to incorporate cooked meat, which did not feel necessarily as relevant as its raw counterpart. I sort of abandoned the whole idea and reverted back to making something physical.

Finally, I had a small epiphany. Recently, I had been working at the butcher shop creating cooking videos. Creating them, I utilized a combination of straight video, and stop motion animation. I started off by manipulating one of the cooking videos I already created into this horrific trope version. Gradually, I let my unconscious guide me, and created the videos intuitively. My method for animating is probably a bit unconventional, and perhaps there are better ways to do it with different programs, but it felt effective for me. In photoshop, I would take a background image, and layer over it different cut out objects that I could manipulate and move to convey different actions. Occasionally, if the action could not be achieved in photoshop, I would photograph the objects and move them slightly after each shot, using the traditional stop motion animation method. Then I would cut out the objects and switch images for each frame. Next, I would change the objects slightly and then save the image as a jpg. Finally, I imported each frame into final cut, and shortened or lengthened them to according to the action. After all that, I searched for sound effects that I deemed appropriate, and incorporated them into the video. Each video would come out to around 30 seconds give or take, while each second would take me around an hour to make. The process felt sort of unrewarding for such a small product, but it felt good to be able to start over fresh every time I began a new video. They did not necessarily have to be related in any way or follow any type of consistent narrative or have any recurring characters. The relationship between the videos relied on certainly some recurring themes, actions, or sounds, but mostly on their consistent incorporation of meat.

I choose to incorporate icons or actions that feel like a trope. However, I place these tropes in unconventional situations, where whatever happens next is entirely unpredictable, but at the same time feels strangely logical. To the characters, everything is so natural, but the alternative universe they are living in has rules that are skewed in the most unnatural way. In my videos, I aim to create an environment that feels entirely foreign; however, certain rules still apply, such as gravity still mostly exists. The sounds feel right, and sound familiar, yet are also entirely wrong at the same time, and it is impossible to describe why.

I wanted to go about my research and exploration in an experimental manner, in which I could more comprehensively experiment with and understand the creation of my own art along with other artist’s art and ideas. I wanted my project to accurately depict my exploration in a natural way. I wanted it to represent my personal process of creating and writing about art, and the way researching other artists influences my own work. For me, the most accurate way to characterize my exploration is through experimentation. Therefore, the project is embodied in the formula of a lab report. There were certain elements of meat art that I wanted to investigate, so through a series of experiments, I drew certain conclusions about not only meat art, but also the way I work as an artist. Throughout the duration of the paper I explore the consumption of meat as a sexual instinct, appropriation and misinterpretation associated with gender in meat art, the employment of meat in ritual, and my personal process and relationship with meat as an artist.

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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