This project takes up questions of surveillance and secrecy within the agriculture industry through the historical oddities of Masonic rituals.
The Mechanical Goat is an curiosity of the fraternal lodge craze in the late 1800’s. Used as a joke for new member initiations, the device referenced popular misconceptions about what went on behind closed doors, perhaps with goats. This project includes a re-imagining of the mechanical goat, a schematic drawing by the famed animal scientist Temple Grandin depicting ritual sheep slaughter practices, and information cards lining the red shelf. These cards have modified, invented, and quoted texts enumerating recent "Ag Gag" legislation that makes it a criminal offense for anyone to make or possess undercover videos or photographs of farming operations, a surprisingly graphic Masonic oath modified only slightly to mirror the slaughter of food animals, and vintage catalog texts. The entire installation is overseen by a VideoSecu Fake Simulated Security Camera, which deters "criminal" activity through the threat of being watched.
Carved goat, glass taxidermy eyes, fabric gag, steel base (fabricated by Aaron Brunner), conceptual Drawing of Animal Conveyor System, 1987 by Temple Grandin (courtesy of the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), fake security camera, wall text
Photos: Will Arnold