• Eden Kelly

Feedlots - Mishka Henner

Feedlots, otherwise known as Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs), are massive stretches of enclosed land where cattle are housed, stuffed with grains, and eventually slaughtered. They became popular in the post-World War II era, when newly established and quickly growing fast food operations demanded more, better, cheaper meat. Nowadays, many cattle live out their lives on the noxious, congested plants, long suspected of spurring environmental problems and disease.

British new media artist Mishka Henner was searching for satellite images of oil fields in the United States when he accidentally stumbled upon birds’-eye view images of the flattened lots. He was first intrigued by the hordes of black and white dots that permeated the landscape, which he later discovered were cattle.

Henner’s series “Feedlots” depicts seven feedlot sites out of the thousands in the United States, as seen from satellite technologies like Google Earth. From a distance, the lots hardly resemble cattle farms, or anything at all. Rather, they resemble odd, oozing, abstract watercolor paintings, punctuated with toxic, glowing greens and festering, bloody reds. These large swaths of color are, in reality, “manure lagoons” — ponds or reservoirs filled with toxic waste which pose potential danger to both the environment and individuals. 

We live in a world where the scale of these industries are so vast,” Henner told Slate. “We can’t see them, and we have no way to visualize them and as long as we can’t, then we struggle to conceptualise them and to get our heads around it to understand the scale and the consequences.”

Mishka explained in his talk that the American public have never actually seen these feedlots ever before his work came about, so like Henner said anybody eating meat cannot fathom where it is coming from as they have never visually seen these images before. As a vegetarian i believe these images are so important for anybody that eats meat to understand where exactly it is coming from.

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