FIELDCLUB – Non-Human Graveyard
2004 - 2012
During seven years of living and growing at FIELDCLUB the complex ethics of human/non-human relations revealed themselves unrelentingly.
FIELDCLUB was an opportunity for a post-modern human to live in a geographically bound food web (necessitated by the project’s status as an experiment in post-carbon self-sufficiency). As the project progressed over the seasons the non-domesticated non-human became closer and more visible to the human.
The principles of the Hutchinsonian niche system were applied to map the interactions between the human and the non-domesticated non-human co-inhabitants of the site. In this mapping, the human was considered as just another species in the food web. The work became a study of proximity which revealed a set of paradoxes:
1) The less distance there is between the site of human production and the site of human consumption, the more the true nature of the relationship between the human and the non-domesticated non-human becomes apparent.
2) Conventional agriculture, while providing for the human, categorically denies 'living room' to the non-domesticated non-human.
3) The more living room afforded to the non-domesticated non-human through the practice of 'low-impact' farming, the more complex and large their nexus becomes leading to an overall increase of death through human intervention on the land - however low-impact.
To take an ‘improved’ silage pasture and convert it to a wildflower meadow on a traditional cutting regime means there will be homes and livelihoods for many more mice, and therefore foxes, owls, and kestrels. And when the waist high homeland is cut so close to the ground at hay time as only a hand scythe does, those mice will either get cut by the blade, or eaten by the circling buzzards by day and the non-human others by night.
As nature truly does abhor a vacuum, a newly ploughed 'conventional' field forgotten for fifteen years would already be on its way to becoming a young woodland. Thanks to the jay burying acorns and the blackbirds seeding blackberry scrub wherever they fly.
So ploughing is repeated to maintain the substrate for human production, enforcing the biota sterilising legacy of the forest clearances that occured many hundreds of years before.
At FIELDCLUB things were low-till. The non-domesticated non-human thrived, and subsequently died by zero-carbon human hand. The incidences of non-domesticated non-human death caused by this attempt to go 'deeper green' were documented in photo and film, before the bodies buried in a dedicated and maintained graveyard.
There is an issue of 'tierischer lebensraum', but you don't bump into it at the supermarket.