Diseased Flesh: Close-Up Views of Sores on Chicken Feet
"I know what the disease wants." --Seth Brundle, dialogue from Cronenburg's The Fly (1986)
DISCLAIMER: I have been doing this project long enough to know that a significant fraction of my viewers are interested in the aesthetics of my work, but rather less interested in my concerns about the ethics of eating animals. And that's absolutely great and a perfectly valid way to interact with the work; I think that all art is open to interpretation and that the audience's interpretation(s) should have no priority over those of the artist themselves. In discussing my work I'm faced with a bit of a tightrope to walk: on the one hand I don't want to obfuscate my own motivations in making this work, while on the other hand I am aware that there's a danger of alienating members of my audience who don't share my concerns about factory farming. So I wanted to preface this post with a bit of a disclaimer: while I try to avoid coming off as preachy, the subject of these images is quite impossible to discuss without being kind of a huge bummer about the meat industry. So if that's not something you're into, you might want to skip this particular set of images. In the next post I promise I'll have some cool creepy shots of teeth that look like mountain ranges. But for those of you who are into this kind of thing...
“What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit. Sick animals are more profitable... Factory farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them." --Jonathan Safran Foer, from Eating Animals
The animals that we consume are sick, but for the most part this ugliness remains hidden from the consumer. Part of the reason I'm so fascinated by chicken's feet is that they provide a rare example of a food product where sores and deformities and disease markers are easy to see. These images continue with my ongoing studies of the various visible sores that present on commercially available chicken feet. It's worth noting that I do not make any special effort to get my hands on diseased animal organs, these kinds of sores are very common.
The more I look at these things the more visually interesting I find them. The colours are incredible: that contrast between the deep black at the heart of the sore and the weird yellow skin sloughing off and the pale healthy flesh that surrounds it all. I have struggled with what to do about that yellow flesh, in particular. It is such a vibrant colour that it almost looks oversaturated and I'm tempted to dial back the saturation on that particular channel to keep the image from looking too cartoonish. But, at the same time, this really is the colour of that flesh. Enjoy!