The Animal Problematic (FIELDCLUB)

2004 - 2012

During the seven years Chaney lived and farmed at FIELDCLUB the complex reality of the human/non-human relationship revealed itself unrelentingly.

FIELDCLUB was a fairly unusual opportunity for a modern human to live in a geographically restricted food web. During his time at FIELDCLUB Chaney applied the principles of the Hutchinsonian niche system to map the interactions between himself and the non-domesticated non-humans with whom he shared the FIELDCLUB environment. This postion quickly highlighted an issue fundamental to the development of a theory of non-anthropocentric coexistence on this planet – that of 'tierischer lebensraum', or 'animal living space'.

Two maxims became apparent:

1) The closer one lives to the site of food production, the less distance there is between the site of production and the site of consumption, the more the necessarily horrific nature of the relationship between the human and the non-domesticated non-human will reveal itself.

2) The more living space one affords the non-human (through the practice of low-impact farming), the more complex and numerous the non-human biota becomes – resulting in more unintentional non-human deaths as an outcome of human activity. If 'nature abhors a vacuum', then the simple act of repeatedly ploughing the soil is as violent as the initial act of clearing a native forest to make a field. Ploughing is a deliberate denial of animal living space, meaning that in the conventional farming system there are very few non-humans around to accidently kill.

This problematic double bind underpinned thinking at the FIELDCLUB project and continues to remain unresolved in contemporary attempts at co-existencial thinking and practice (i.e. veganism).

At FIELDCLUB, many unhappy incidences of non-human death caused by Chaney's attempts to go 'deep green' were documented and categorised before the non-human bodies were buried in the dedicated FIELDCLUB graveyard. Two examples are shown here.

One For Sorrow, Digital Video 2008: Re-enactment of the last flight of a magpie found drowned in a water butt, before burial in the FIELDCLUB Graveyard.
One For Sorrow, Digital Video 2008: Re-enactment of the last flight of a magpie found drowned in a water butt, before burial in the FIELDCLUB Graveyard.

Vole No Pulse, 2007: Short video film documenting the accidental death and burial of a pregnant field vole in the FIELDCLUB Graveyard.
Vole No Pulse, 2007: Short video film documenting the accidental death and burial of a pregnant field vole in the FIELDCLUB Graveyard.