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The Ecology of Grain: An Ecological Analysis of Gelatin in Photographic Film

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The first ever ecological and ethical assessment of animal gelatin in analogue photographic film, calculating the environmental impact of film and the moral quandary that arises from using a product so tied to the structural violence of industrial animal agriculture - ultimately asking, is art a legitimate reason to exploit nonhumans and devastate our natural environment?
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T H E
E C O L O G Y
OF GRAIN
An Ecological Analysis of Gelatin in Photographic Film
Edward Maughan-Carr | Contemporary Art Practice | Nina Trviedi | 10,986 Words | 2019
Figure 1: Jane Bown, Cow Eye, 1947.
THE ECOLOGY
OF GRAIN
An Ecological Analysis of Gelatin in Photographic Film
Edward Maughan-Carr | Contemporary Art Practice | Nina Trivedi | 10,986 Words | 2019
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
4
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you to all those who supported the
creation of this dissertation, particularly
my tutor Nina Trivedi, all those artists that
participated in the interviews, and my friends
and family.
And most of all the cows, the cows, the cows.
Figure 2: Unknown, Cows, Circa 1912.
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
CONTENTS
5
INTRODUCTION
08 LIST OF FIGURES
10 THE ANALOGUE RENAISSANCE
12 INTRODUCTION: ENDNOTES
CHAPTER ONE
15 A PLANET IN CRISIS
16 ANTHROPOCENE...OR CAPITALOCENE?
20 NEW MATERIALISM IN ARTISTIC FORM
22 CHAPTER ONE: ENDNOTES
CHAPTER TWO
28 THE RISE OF GELATIN
31 CHEAP MEAT AND GELATIN
36 CHAPTER TWO: ENDNOTES
CHAPTER THREE
41 TO BYPRODUCT OR N OT TO BYPRODUCT?
44 GELATIN’S STICKY FOOTPRINT
50 CHAPTER THREE: ENDNOTES
CHAPTER FOUR
56 AN AESTHETIC TO DIE FOR
59 MACAQUES AND BIOGLYPHS
62 CHAPTER FOUR: ENDNOTES
CONCLUSION
68 THE ECOLOGICAL RENAISSANCE
69 CONCLUSION: ENDNOTES
70 APPENDIX: INTERVIEWS
86 BIBLIOGRAPHY
Figure 3: Julie Krouse, Empty film canisters, 2019.
INTRODUCTION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
7
INTRODUCTION
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
8
Figure 1: Jane Bown, Cow Eye, 1947, <https://www.
theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/dec/28/jane-bown-
the-eye-had-it> [accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 2: Unknown, Cows, circa 1912, <https://
oldnewhouse.com/products/antique-experimental-
photograph-revival-grainy-cows-nh00297> [accessed 4
April 2019].
Figure 3: Julie Krouse, Empty film canisters, 2019,
<https://www.etsy.com/listing/273315378/lot-of-400-
empty-assorted-35mm-film> [accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 4: George Eastman Museum, Photographic
gelatin preparation, 2016, <https://www.eastman.org/
event/workshops/gelatin-emulsion-dry-plate-negatives>
[accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 5: Mark Ralston, California wildfires, 2018,
<https://www.livescience.com/63317-photos-california-
wildfires-2018.html> [accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 6: Vandana Shiva, The stable/unstable
constellations of the three domains, 2018, in Joanna
Boehnert, ‘Anthropocene Economics and Design:
Heterodox Economics for Design Transitions’, She Ji:
The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation 4 (4)
(2018), 355-374 (p. 363).
Figure 7: Amy Scaife, Artists protesting BP’s sponsorship
of the Tate, 2011, <https://frieze.com/article/point-
change-it> [accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 8: Arts Council England, Extracts from report
focusing primarily on Carbon emissions in the
art industry, 2018, <https://www.artscouncil.org.
uk/publication/sustaining-great-art-and-culture-
environmental-report-201718> [accessed 20 June 2019].
Figure 9: Oikeutta Eläimille, Beef cattle, 2018, <https://
www.flickr.com/photos/oikeuttaelaimille/26437082658/
in/album-72157692738177364/> [accessed 27 June
2019].
Figure 10: Reese V. Jenkins, Historic Kodak sales
figures, ‘Technology and the Market: George Eastman
and the Origins of Mass Amateur Photography’,
Technology and Culture 16 (1) (1975), 1-19 (p. 18).
Figure 11: Eastman Kodak, The Kodak Camera advert,
circa 1888, <https://www.digitalrev.com/article/on-
kodak-s-127th-birthday-see-their-oldest-surviving-
camera> [accessed 27 June 2019].
Figure 12: Marjory Collins, Hoisting a slaughtered steer,
1942, <http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/fsa.8d23516/>
[accessed 27 June 2019].
Figure 13: Oikeutta Eläimille, Beef cattle,
2015, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/
oikeuttaelaimille/16396508546/in/
album-72157650589868821/> [accessed 27 June 2019].
Figure 14: Sue Coe, Illustration of bolt gun being used
on cow, 1988, <https://katthorsen.com/2011/01/27/
the-incredible-sue-coe-artist-activist-power-image-
inspiration/> [accessed 27 June 2019].
Figure 15: Compassion in World Farming, EU cattle
being slaughtered in the Middle East, 2015, < https://
theecologist.org/2015/oct/03/eu-must-end-its-cruel-
exports-live-animals> [accessed 27 June 2019].
Figure 16: Edward Maughan-Carr, 869 cows visualised,
created by the author for this dissertation, private
collection, 4 July 2019.
Figure 17: Zoe Strauss, Image from series on gelatin
production, 2015, <https://photographicgelatin.
files.wordpress.com/2015/05/kill-floor_1505_1.
jpg?w=580&h=387> [accessed 4 April 2019].
Figure 18: Edward Maughan-Carr, Gelatin’s
environmental impact infographic, created by the author
for this dissertation, private collection, 4 July 2019.
Figure 19: Giulia Marchi, Tibetan monk exhibiting
images of fish poisoning, 2017, <https://www.
LIST OF FIGURES
CONTENTS
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
CONTENTS
9
lemonde.fr/planete/portfolio/2017/08/16/au-tibet-
la-nature-sacree-mise-a-mal-par-l-exploitation-du-
lithium_5172975_3244.html> [accessed 1 July 2019].
Figure 20: Bart Everson, Analogue film stock,
2006, <https://www.flickr.com/photos/11018968@
N00/283990406/> [accessed 1 July 2019].
Figure 21: Zoe Strauss, Image from series on gelatin
production, 2015, <https://photographicgelatin.files.
wordpress.com/2015/05/kill-floor_1810.jpg> [accessed
1 July 2019].
Figure 22: Eduardo Kac, Green fluorescent rabbit, 2000,
<https://www.purdue.edu/uns/images/+2005/kac-bunny.
jpg> [accessed 1 July 2019].
Figure 23: Alex Pacheco, One of the Silver Spring
macaques, 1981, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
File:SilverSpring1981.jpg> [accessed 1 July 2019].
Figure 24: Daro Montag, This Earth Bioglyph, 2007,
<https://www.interaliamag.org/articles/daro-montag/>
[accessed 2 July 2019].
Figure 25: Uberprutser, New born calf of a Friesian red
and white cow, 2013, <https://commons.wikimedia.org/
wiki/File:New_born_Frisian_red_white_calf.jpg#/media/
File:New_born_Frisian_red_white_calf.jpg> [accessed 3
July 2019].
Figure 26: Ryan McDonald, Cows on film, 2011,
<https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdnry/5719295054>
[accessed 3 July 2019].
INTRODUCTION
10
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
Following the advent of digital imaging
technology, sales in analogue stocks suffered
a seemingly irreversible collapse.1 From
cinematic 35mm, to the wide variety of still
photography formats - none were safe from
the sweeping ‘digital avalanche’.2 Outpaced
and outgunned, analogue technology
was relegated to the dust-laden shelves
of hobbyists and a handful of dedicated
professionals. Bloated industry giants
such as Polaroid, Agfa and Kodak endured
catastrophic declines, with bankruptcies and
demolished buildings setting a sombre tone
for the future.3
And yet, from the ashes of a once-blazing
fire rises an all-too-analogue phoenix,
spreading its wings on the airs of increasing
sales percentages and an expanding,
dedicated consumer base.4 Analogue is
once again on the rise. Across the board,
talking heads are referring to the rise as a
‘renaissance’; nearly a third of all still film
users are younger than thirty-five and 60%
taking up the technology have only done so
in the past five years.5 Although it is unlikely
that film will ever reemerge as the market
leader, it is undeniable that its popularity
is increasing - with no signs of abatement.
Enthusiastic users hold that film’s unique
aesthetic is near-impossible to duplicate
with digital technology. Be it a ripple of
grain, or an orange light leak dancing at the
edge of the frame, the analogue aesthetic
is an intoxicating wave of nostalgic beauty
exploring ‘life uncensored’.6
However, the uncensored of today that film
captures is a drastically different place.
Choking on the voracious fumes of ‘hyper-
consumption’, ecological devastation has
reached an all-time high.7 With only eleven
years to reverse the effects of climate
breakdown, and an annihilation of biodiversity
outstripping that of the dinosaurs, our
lenses are pointed towards a ‘precipice of
biosphere collapse’.8 9 10 This multitude of
catastrophic events, often defined together
as the ecological crisis, threatens the
‘collapse of civilisation...within decades’ -
according to biologist Paul Ehrlich. 11 12 To
avoid collapse, anthropologists, academics
and scientists argue that we must move
away from anthropocentrism towards a more
‘ecocentric’ society.13 One that recognises
the interconnectivity of species and abiotic
features in planetary ecosystems, prioritises
sustainability beyond human value, and
holds an ‘intrinsic’ respect for the agency of
nonhuman beings - all as ‘central to solving
our unprecedented environmental crisis’. 14 15
But as film is touted to give pause in a
world driven by high-speed consumption
- allowing you to step into a bygone age
of patient perfectionism - it brings along
historic baggage of its own.16 Namely,
exploitation of the biosphere. Behind the
mask of its vintage aesthetic lies a face
smeared by the ‘ecological violence’ of
aggressive industrialism.17 Whilst film involves
numerous harmful elements, such as toxic
chemicals and metals, this essay will focus
on gelatin - a key ingredient (fig. 4). Gelatin
is a substance made primarily from the skin
or bones of animals slaughtered for meat
consumption.18 The collagen in these raw
materials is converted through a process
known as hydrolysis into a clear and versatile
material. Combined with silver halide crystals,
gelatin makes film a reality by assisting in its
adherence to the cellulose base, acting as a
‘binding agent’.19
So does this binding agent stick to the walls
of a newly ecological culture, so desperately
needed in the face of potential biosphere
collapse? With the demand for a sustainable
THE ANALOGUE
RENAISSANCE
INTRODUCTION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
11
ethic that holds an ‘intrinsic value’ towards
both living beings and nonliving systems
- we must question the resurgence of film
and its use of gelatin, explicitly derived from
nonhuman beings.20
To do so, Chapter One will look at the wider
ecological and artistic context of today,
whilst outlining the model used to evaluate
gelatin. Chapter Two will then look at the
deeper context of photographic gelatin and
its associations to animal agriculture, before
Chapters Three and Four then go on to
investigate the specific environmental and
nonhuman welfare impacts of gelatin in film.
The opinion of fifteen artists - interviewed
for this dissertation - will also be considered
throughout to frame the debate.21 Ultimately,
the paper will conclude by asking - should
analogue film be preserved for artistic
purposes, or consigned to the books of
photographic history forever?
Figure 4: George Eastman Museum, Photographic gelatin preparation, 2016.
INTRODUCTION
12
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
1. Katie Hafner, ‘Film Drop-Off Sites Fade Against Digital
Cameras’, New York Times, 9 October 2007, <https://
www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/business/09film.html>
[accessed May 14 2019].
2. Michael Reichmann, ‘The Rise of Digital imaging
and the Fall of the Old Camera Industry’, The Luminous
Landscape, January 13 2009, <https://luminous-
landscape.com/the-rise-of-digital-imaging-and-the-fall-of-
the-old-camera-industry/> [accessed May 14 2019].
3. Michael Zhang, ‘Kodak Turns 92-Year-Old Film
Manufacturing Building Into Rubble’, PetaPixel, July 19
2015, <https://petapixel.com/2015/07/19/kodak-turns-
92-year-old-film-manufacturing-building-into-rubble/>
[accessed May 14 2019].
4. Olivier Laurent, ‘This Is Why Film Photography Is
Making a Comeback’, Time Magazine, 26 January 2017,
<http://time.com/4649188/film-photography-industry-
comeback/> [accessed 14 May 2019]
5. Ashley Hurst, ‘Revisiting the ‘Analogue Renaissance’’,
Bell, February 8 2018, <https://www.bell-integrated.
co.uk/revisiting-the-analogue-renaissance/> [accessed 14
May 2019].
6. Tracy Mikulec, ‘Why Shoot Film?’, The Dark Room, 30
September 2016, <https://thedarkroom.com/why-shoot-
film/> [accessed 14 May 2019].
7. Pia A. Albinsson, Marco Wolf, and Dennis A. Kopf,
‘Anti-consumption in East Germany: consumer resistance
to hyperconsumption’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 9
(6) (2010), 412-425.
8. Myles Allen et al., ‘Global Warming of 1.5°C: Summary
for Policymakers’, IPCC, 2018. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/
assets/uploads/sites/2/2018/07/SR15_SPM_High_Res.pdf
[accessed 14th May 2019].
9. Ceballos, Gerardo, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzo,
‘Biological Annihilation via the Ongoing Sixth Mass
Extinction Signaled by Vertebrate Population Losses
and Declines,’ Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences 114 (2017) <http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/
pnas.1704949114>.
10. Glen Barry, ‘Grotesque Global Inequity Threatens
Ecological Collapse and Horrific Death for All’,
Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere,
24 October 2017, <https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/
grotesque-global-inequity/> [accessed 14 May 2019].
11. John Barry and Robyn Eckersley, The State and the
Global Ecological Crisis, (Massachusetts: MIT Press,
2005).
12. Paul R. Ehrilch quoted in: Damian Carrington,
‘Collapse of civilisation is a near certainty within
decades’, The Guardian, 22 March 2018, <https://www.
theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/22/collapse-civilisation-
near-certain-decades-population-bomb-paul-ehrlich>
[accessed 14 May 2019].
13. Haydn Washington et al., ‘Why ecocentrism is the
key pathway to sustainability’, The Ecological Citizen 1 (1)
(2017), 35-41.
14. Abiotic features are those considered nonliving, such
as rain, wind, soil, rocks and so on.
15. Anthropocentrism meaning prioritising human needs
over nonhumans and abiotic earth systems. For a detailed
definition, see: Helen Kopnina et al., ‘Anthropocentrism:
More than just a misunderstood problem’, Journal of
Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (1) (2018), 109-
127.
16. Rosie Matheson in: Robin Stummer, ‘Back to the
darkroom: young fans reject digital to revive classic film
camera’, The Observer, 28 January 2018, <https://www.
theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/28/does-reflex-slr-
camera-herald-35mm-film-renaissance> [accessed 14 May
2019].
17. Brandon Absher, ‘Toward a Concept of Ecological
Violence: Heidegger and Mountain Justice’, Radical
INTRODUCTION: ENDNOTES
INTRODUCTION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
13
Philosophy Review 15 (1) (2012), 89-101.
18. Pavel Mokrejs et al., ‘Extraction of collagen and
gelatine from meat industry by-products for food and non
food uses’, Waste Management & Research 27 (1) (2009),
31-37.
19. Klaus B. Hendriks et al,. ‘Properties and Stability
of Gelatin Layers in Photographic Materials’, Albumen,
1984, <http://albumen.conservation-us.org/library/c20/
hendriks1.html> [accessed 14 May 2019].
20. Intrinsic value is value unto itself, as opposed to
value as ascribed by human use or financial value. See:
Ronald Sand, ‘Intrinsic Value, Ecology, and Conservation’,
Nature Education Knowledge 3 (10), 4.
21. Artists were either directly contacted via email,
or responded to flyers placed around London to be
interviewed. In contacting artists directly via email,
prominent names working with analogue were selected
from google searches and from articles referring to
contemporary photographers working with the medium
as seen in: Robin Strummer, The Observer 2018 article. I
received fifteen interviews in total.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
14
CHAPTER ONE:
CONTEXT
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
15
As a chorus of snapping mechanical shutters
echo through the halls of youth culture, they
do so upon a planetary backdrop under
extreme and irreversible duress. Therefore,
before examining the specificities of
gelatin in analogue film, it is imperative to
examine this context. Climate breakdown,
acknowledged by Stanford Research Institute
over fifty years ago, is now at the forefront of
scientific, academic and political discourse.1
With the consensus extending beyond
climate researchers to oceanographers,
entomologists, dendrologists and more - it
can be safely assumed that the phenomenon
is grounded in near-irrefutable fact.2 3 4
One need look no further than the
devastating California wildfires fueled by
an ever-increasing regional temperature
(fig. 5), or the droughts in Chad causing
‘chronic malnutrition’ for thousands of
families, to realise that the consequences
of climate breakdown are not just rising
graphs or swelling academic reports - but
tangible brutalities affecting the everyday
lives of vulnerable humans and nonhumans
across the globe.5 6 Instigated largely by a
slavish addiction to fossil fuels and industrial
agriculture, the climate crisis is now officially
recognised by the UN’s Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change as a threat unlike
any other in history.7 8
A PLANET IN CRISIS
Figure 5: Mark Ralston, California wildfires, 2018.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
16
Indeed, the threat of climate breakdown has
the potential to erase entire ecosystems, such
as the ghostly coral bleaching in the Great
Barrier Reef, and the ‘extraordinary thinning’
of Antarctic ice.9 10 But the ‘holocaust of
biodiversity’ being pressed upon Earth
systems is a result not only of climate
breakdown, but a multitude of factors.11 For
instance, the deforestation of the Amazon - as
one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth - is
at a ten-year high due to illegal logging and
animal agriculture.12 1
We are facing such extreme levels of industrial
land consumption, habitat destruction,
environmental pollution and more, that we
are now living through a sixth mass species
extinction - with roughly 200 species going
extinct per day. Researchers strike a powerful
conclusion, referring to such reckless
overconsumption as a ‘frightening assault
on the foundation of human civilisation’ with
‘serious ecological, economic and social
consequences’.14
Clearly, we are a planet in crisis. Many of
these issues affecting Earth also compound
climate change and vice versa, exposing the
complex and interrelated nature of the issues
that are driving extinction.15
And yet, despite the swelling list of
factors involved, it is being increasingly
acknowledged that there is a common
denominator in these gruesome proceedings:
humanity. Due to the anthropogenic nature
of these tragedies, the moniker of the
Anthropocene has been given to this crucial
geological era, first wielded by chemist Paul
Crutzen and biologist Eugene Stoermer in
2000 to highlight the troubling impact of
human development, based on increasing
evidence of rapid changes to planetary
ecosystems.16
In short, human activity has had such
significant influence on the planetary
ecosystem - triggering a number of positive
feedback loops, such as melting ice caps
then adding to planetary warming and
exacerbating the climate crisis - that it now
defines this period of geological time.17
With the mounting evidence of industrial
development as contributing to the issue, it is
often assumed that humanity as a species is
to blame. As Stoermer and Crutzen put it, the
Anthropocene helps acknowledge ‘the central
role of mankind in geology and ecology’.18 In
essence, human and nonhuman culture can no
longer be seen as fundamentally distinct, and
our institutions must respond appropriately.19
Initially used on an informal basis by
scientists to speculate whether we had
truly entered a new era, it was years later
before the Anthropocene was more widely
viewed as a new geological epoch.20 In
2016 the Anthropocene Working Group
evaluated evidence and voted in favour of
recommending the term as defining our
current geological age - distinct from the
previously stable Holocene.21 However,
it has yet to be formally approved by the
International Commision on Stratigraphy and
become an official geological time scale.22
Regardless, the Anthropocene has flooded
contemporary Western culture, with students
at Stanford University claiming we now belong
to ‘Generation Anthropocene’, radically
reshaping our society in the face of planetary
crisis.23 However, for some, the species-
wide assumption of Anthropocene leaves a
bitter taste of neocolonialism in the mouth.
Artists Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin
emphasise the ‘dissatisfaction’ with the term
Anthropocene, as it misleads the public from
the more nuanced causes of our ecological
crisis.24 Theorists such as Jason W. Moore
agree, drawing the lines with a precision
beyond humanity at large. Moore asserts that
capitalism as a system of human organisation
has much more to answer for, in that it
‘imposes a relentless pattern of violence on
nature, humans included’.25
ANTHROPOCENE...
OR CAPITALOCENE?
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
17
As John McMurtry explains, nonhuman nature
is valued through its financial value in respect
to industrial gains, as opposed to intrinsically.
Influencing industrial development, aggressive
extraction methods rode at the fore - reaching
an ‘ecocidal’ level that now threatens all
life on Earth.26 By functioning on a flawed
ideology of endless growth - necessitating
treatment of the nonhuman world as an
objectified resource to be extracted and
transformed into profit - capitalism could
be the blood-soaked key to our current
crisis.27 Legitimising rapacious exploitation
of the biosphere to reach dizzying heights of
‘techno-scientific transformation’, capitalism
is now a bloated monster edging us to the
precipice of extinction.28 Moore thus coined
the term Capitalocene, to assure blame
lies with a historically Western economic
and social model of unsustainable market
dominance - excluding indigenous and other
actors that have little influence in capitalist
development.29
Depicted in Vandana Shiva’s diagram used
by researcher Joanna Boehnert (fig. 6),
modern capitalism prioritises the market
over natural systems (left) - despite our
systemic reliance on the latter.30 Human and
nonhuman ecologies are completely co-
dependent, although this has been typically
ignored and overridden by industrial and
economic development.31 In turn, this creates
a tremendously unequal and ecologically-
unsustainable society.
Although Earth is a finite planet, an economic
system demanding endless growth through
continual extraction is the crazed fallacy
at the broken wheel of industrial society.32
Opposingly, a more ecological culture
prioritising natural systems and recognising
our limits would hold more long-term stability,
helping enshrine the rights of nonhumans and
others that capitalism typically abuses (right).
Boehnert envisions this stable alternative as
the Ecocene, which looks towards the future
and how a society designed around ecological
principles of sustainability and respect for
nonhuman rights may manifest.33
Boehnert argues mainstream contemporary
art and design is no way exempt from the
unsustainable model - proclaiming them to
have a ‘cosy relationship’ with exploitative
capitalism.34 Gregory Sholette agrees,
Figure 6: Vandana Shiva, The stable/unstable constellations of the three domains, 2018.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
18
Figure 7: Amy Scaife, Artists protesting BP’s sponsorship of the Tate, 2011.
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
19
noting the art world’s intertwining, ‘if not
outright subsumption, by the global financial
economy’. Sholette points to the expanding
financialization of art pieces, corporate
involvement from ecocidal companies (such
as BP’s former sponsorship of the Tate (fig.
7)), and the obsessive profiteering of arts
education as evidence of this insidious
relationship.35 With photographic art forms,
Nathan Jun concludes that this relationship
is impossible to ‘disentangle’, as wide-
spread imaging technologies have been
made possible only by the conditions of
capitalism.36
Therefore, transforming the arts in hopes of
an Ecocene-type society is imperative; as
it is bogged down in the noxious swamp of
profiteering that suffocates nonhuman rights
and deliberately neglects environmental
sustainability. T.J Demos believes that art,
‘in its most ambitious and far-ranging sense’,
must present ‘new ways of comprehending
ourselves and our relation to the world’
that depart from ‘the destructive traditions
of colonizing nature’ - as seen in capitalist
models.37 Traditions such as ‘industrialized
agriculture, resource extraction, energy
production, and petrochemicals’ - to name
a few, identified by Davis and Turpin.3 8
Exploring this tradition as extending into
gelatin in Chapter Two, Capitalocene is the
more appropriate term for this dissertation,
helping ‘identify the economic determination’
of its use and ecological impact.39
Arts educator Kayla Anderson echoes Demos,
emphasising that the arts can ‘act as platforms
for critical and non-instrumental thinking’,
allowing space for ‘envisioning radical futures’
that depart from said destructive traditions of
our current society - facilitating the disastrous
Capitalocene.40 Heather Davis and Etienne
Turpin concur, remarking how art allows us
to ‘think through the limits’ of our current
cultural frameworks - such as an exploitative
capitalist economy - in order to develop a
more ecologically-equitable society.41
This is reiterated by environmental theorists
Maja and Reuben Fowkes; they feel to not
prioritise ecocentric artistic practice would
be a failure of the ‘important legacies’ in
contemporary art as a cultural lighthouse.42
Whilst philosopher Arnold Berleant argued for
an ‘aesthetic of engagement’ that integrated
nonhuman life into cultural development in
the 1970s - the idea failed to gain mainstream
traction.43 Pursuing this ideal into the present
century, evaluating the often taken-for-
granted use of gelatin in photographic
production may contribute to a departure
from said ‘destructive traditions’, and radically
reassess the consequences of an analogue
‘renaissance’ in the Capitalocene.
However, whilst works exploring the
sustainability and nonhuman rights, ‘have
literally invaded the gallery space’ - to
the point of reaching ‘the core of debate
in contemporary art practice’ - there still
remains little consideration of form from
such a perspective.44 Indeed, renowned
arts programmes, such as The Serpentine’s
General Ecology are shooting up like weeds
in a freshly-ploughed field of aesthetics,
discussing ethical and social dilemmas such as
climate breakdown, the Anthropocene, and an
unbridled capitalist economy. 45
Nonetheless, the focus falls almost exclusively
on ecological content, with an evaluation
of form falling by the artistic wayside. If we
merely focus on ecological content and not
production, then we head only halfway down
the road to an Ecocene future.46 Therefore,
as ecologically-conscious production is left
wilting under the art world’s radar, the use
of materials must be considered in equal
rigour to content. If we are to divorce artistic
practice from the destructive traditions of
the Capitalocene, a due examination of
materials is essential - as the links to said
traditions are with consequence. Often they
are unsustainable, toxic, and extremely
wasteful - regardless of an artwork’s concept
or meaning.47
Maja and Reuben Fowkes believe that in
an era threatened by biosphere collapse
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
20
‘sustainability of form...takes priority over
content’ - despite the fact that it may
challenge the previously enjoyed ‘autonomy
of art’.48 49 Alison Tickell asks, if all other
elements of industrial society are expected
to reform around ecological principles - why
not artistic practice?50 Although Arts Council
England offers support for organisations to
reform their operations, the focus is almost
exclusively on carbon emissions from energy
use and does not prioritise ecological form
(fig. 8).51 Ecologically intertwined, carbon
emissions are of equal concern as water
pollutants, biodiversity loss, nonhuman rights,
and more in tackling the current crisis.52
Therefore, much like the academic research
gap of gelatin in artistic production demands
a further examination, the wider disparity
between ecological form and content makes
it even more pressing in today’s context of
ecological breakdown. If challenging the
widespread exploitation and subsequent
collapse of our biosphere through creative
practice is ‘today’s most crucial terrain of
struggle’, it is equally crucial to narrow this
disparity.53
But in evaluating gelatin, what alternative
worldviews exist outside of the profit-seeking
anthropocentrism defining Western culture?
As ‘human-centred exceptionalism’ is dashed
on the rocks of ecology, it is inevitable that
society must move towards a pragmatic ideal
that respects and integrates the rights and
needs of nonhumans - or face biological
annihilation.54 Given the fierce criticism
falling on capital-centric efforts like carbon
tax credits, and land grabs thinly veiled as
conservation efforts, more radical approaches
departing from the dominant conceptual
framework of both beliefs and actions are
paramount.55 56
The radical alternative this dissertation will
follow is put forward by the likes of Rosi
Braidotti, believing industrial society requires
a ‘posthuman’ worldview - establishing
‘a continuum between human and non-
human matter’. This continuum promotes a
sustainable ethic of ecological responsibility
across human beliefs and subsequent
practices.57 Braidotti and others strive for an
awareness that we are embodied within a
thoroughly physical, material world, and that
all matter is therefore relational and ‘animate’.
As a consequence, we are ‘inextricably
enmeshed in a dense network of relations’
with other nonhumans.58 In effect, we live in
a world where all participants are thoroughly
connected and sustained through a network of
ever-changing physical relationships - known
typically as New Materialism.59 60
Because nonhuman agency is so intertwined
with our own, this non-anthropocentric
approach means we must adopt a more
democratic and inclusive system of
understanding and practices. Acknowledging
a material existence in all things thus
decentres the human, helping assign
nonhumans equal autonomy.61 This adds
strength to an already well-defined Western
animal rights movement, whilst allowing it to
extend even to the microbial level.62 63
Furthermore, this approach focuses so
pointedly on the materiality of existence,
that it is impossible to avoid ‘the enormous
microscopic impact’ of ‘mundane individual
actions’ - such as using a roll of film.64 Each
action is not isolated, but in fact a ‘trans-
action’ affecting other participants in an
ecology - resulting in an inevitably sustainable
ethic of living that considers all, not just
humans.65 66
This inevitably spreads to a consideration of
how the political, economic and social are
realms that include the nonhuman, as they
involve physical actors and have ‘real material
force’, impacting not only our species but
others beyond.67 68 Indeed, Jason W. Moore
adopts a New Materialist position to critique
capitalism; claiming through externalising
nature, it betrays our interconnected reality
NEW MATERIALISM
AND ARTISTIC FORM
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
21
to exploit nonhuman matter ‘as it pleases...to
serve economic growth’ - of which gelatin may
be included.69
Extending into the aesthetic, Barbara Bolt
believes that a New Materialist position can
dissolve the idea that in creative ‘actions’,
nonhuman matter is just ‘a means-to-an-end’
- as with capitalist ideology. Instead, it has as
much ‘responsibility for the emergence’ of an
artwork as the human creator. Although Bolt
is primarily referencing abiotic matter (silver),
gelatin makes this viewpoint even more
pertinent, as it involves thinking and feeling
lifeforms - namely, cows.70 71
According to Dr. Katve-Kaisa Kontturi, a
work’s materiality is ‘the crucial but oft-
neglected element of any process of
[artistic] representation’. However, a New
Materialist artistic process challenges this,
and ‘equally values human and non-human
agents’. Kontturi reinforces that an artist
must ‘pay rigorous attention’ to the form
of process, and that they are collaborating
with other nonhuman actors. If the process
causes harm to said actors, or damages our
life-sustaining ecosystems, then it may be
considered a medium in need of ecological
transformation.72
With photographic mediums, Bolt states
how there exists ‘an intense relationship
between a myriad of human and non human
actants’ - although she does not identify
the use of gelatin as derived from animals
in analogue film stocks as one.73 Thus, by
focusing on gelatin-as-matter, we can confront
the discussed disparity between ecological
content and form in the artistic sphere. This in
turn may contribute to an ecocentric ethic of
artistic production, if creators are encouraged
to see their materials as collaborators.
Understanding how using certain materials
may negatively impact ecosystems as a
trans-action, devastate the agency of living
nonhumans, or contribute to an unhinged
economic system is central to a New
Materialist art practice.74 This lies in stark
contrast to a profit-based, anthropocentric
approach, where materials are little more than
lifeless items ripe for consumption to produce
an isolated work - advancing the career of an
Figure 8: Arts Council England, Extracts from report focusing primarily on Carbon emissions in the art industry, 2018.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
22
artist, or a company purse.75
To do so, such an examination must
investigate ‘the constellations of relations’
around an event - in this case the use of
gelatin - and ‘take account of the ecological
breadth of affects’ involved - as developed
by researchers Nick J. Fox and Pam Aldred.76
This means thinking relationally in respect to
gelatin’s connections with the environment,
and its impact on nonhuman welfare.
However, it must be emphasised that the
purpose of this dissertation is not to put film
users in the stocks and bloody them with
ecological rocks. Instead, the analysis hopes
to foster an awareness of the ecological
implications of photographic gelatin in
the Capitalocene, ultimately contributing
towards a wider pursuit of an ecological
ethic for artistic form. But first, we must
examine the present situation of gelatin in our
contemporary context.
1. E. Robinson and R.C. Robbins, Sources, Abundance,
and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Pollutants. Final Report
and Supplement (California: Stanford Research Institute,
1968), p 1.
2. R.W. Schmitt, ‘The Ocean’s Role in Climate’,
Oceanography 31 (2) (2018), 32-40 (p. 32).
3. Bradford C. Lister and Andres Garcia, ‘Climate-driven
declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest
food web’, Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences 115 (44) (2018), E10397-E10406.
4. Rebecca G. Nisley, ‘Study Suggests Tree Ranges are
Already Shifting Due to Climate Change’, NRS Research
Review 11 (2010), 1-6 (p. 1).
5. Alejandra Borunda, ‘See how a warmer world primed
California for large fires’, National Geographic, 15
November 2018, <https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
environment/2018/11/climate-change-california-wildfire/>
[accessed 1 April 2019].
6. OCHA, ‘Lake Chad Basin: Crisis Update’, OCHA, n.d.,
<https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/
LCB%20Crisis%20Update%20No.%2026.pdf> [accessed 1
April 2019].
7. C. Le Quéré et al., ‘Global Carbon Budget 2018’,
Earth Syst. Sci. Data 10 (2018), 2141-2194 (p. 2141)
<https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-10-2141-2018> [accessed
1 April 2019].
8. Jonathan Watts, ‘We have 12 years to limit climate
change catastrophe, warns UN’, The Guardian, 8 October
2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/
oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-
landmark-un-report> [accessed 1 April 2019].
9. Lisa Cox, ‘Some Great Barrier Reef suffering lasting
effects from mass bleaching events’, The Guardian,
4 March 2019, <https://www.theguardian.com/
environment/2019/mar/04/some-great-barrier-reef-coral-
suffering-lasting-effects-from-mass-bleaching-events>
[accessed 1 April 2019].
10. Damian Carrington, ‘Extraordinary thinning’
of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica’, The
Guardian, 16 May 2019, <https://www.theguardian.com/
environment/2019/may/16/thinning-of-antarctic-ice-
sheets-spreading-inland-rapidly-study> [accessed 16 May
2019].
11. Samuel Alexander and Amanda McLeod, Simple
Living in History (Australia: Simple Living Institute, 2014),
p.1.
12. BBC, ‘Amazon rainforest deforestation ‘worst
in 10 years’, says Brazil’, BBC News, 24 November
2018 <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-
america-46327634> [accessed 1 April 2019].
13. Flavio LM et al., ‘Potential increase of legal
deforestation in Brazilian Amazon after Forest Act
revision’, Nature Sustainability 1 (11) (2018), 665.
14. Gerardo Ceballos quoted in: Damian Carrington,
‘Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists
CHAPTER ONE:
ENDNOTES
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
23
warn’, The Guardian, 10 July 2017, <https://www.
theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/earths-sixth-
mass-extinction-event-already-underway-scientists-warn>
[accessed 17 June 2019].
15. Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo
Dirzo, ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass
extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and
declines’, PNAS 114 (30) (2017), E6089-E6096 (p. E6089)
<https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1704949114> [accessed 1
April 2019].
16. Will Steffen, Paul J Crutzen and John R McNeill, ‘The
Anthropocene: Are Humans Now Overwhelming the Great
Forces of Nature?’, Ambio 36 (8) (2007), 614-621 (p. 614).
17. Will Steffen et al., ‘Trajectories of the Earth System in
the Anthropocene’, PNAS 115 (33) (2018), 8252-8259 (p.
8252).
18. Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, ‘The
Anthropocene’, IGBP Newsletter 41 (2000), 17.
19. Dipesh Chakrabarty, ‘The Climate of History: Four
Theses’, Critical Inquiry 35 (2) (2009), 197-222.
20. Dipesh Chakrabarty gives a detailed history of this
progression in: ‘Anthropocene time’, History and Theory,
57 (1) (2018), 5-32.
21. Damian Carrington, ‘The Anthropocene epoch:
scientists declare dawn of humanity-influenced age’, The
Guardian, 29 August 2016, <https://www.theguardian.
com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-
epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-
earth> [accessed 16 May 2019].
22. George Dvorsky, ‘New Evidence Suggests
Human Beings Are a Geological Force of Nature’,
Gizmodo, 1 July 2016, <https://gizmodo.com/new-
evidence-suggests-human-beings-are-a-geological-
for-1751429480> [accessed 16 May 2019].
23. M.C. Osborne et al., ‘Podcasting the Anthropocene:
Student engagement, storytelling and the rise of a
new model for outreach and interdisciplinary science
communication training’, AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts,
December 2012, <http://adsabs.harvard.edu/
abs/2012AGUFMED22D..03O> [accessed 16 May 2019].
24. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, Art in the
Anthropocene: Encounters among aesthetics, politics,
environments and epistemologies (London: Open
Humanities Press, 2015), p. 13.25.
25. Jason W. Moore, Anthropocene or Capitalocene?
Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (California:
PM Press, 2016), p. 7.
26. John McMurtry, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism
(London: Pluto Press, 1999), p. 156.
27. Matthew MacLellan, ‘The Tragedy of Limitless
Growth: Re-interpreting the Tragedy of the Commons for
a Century of Climate Change’, Environmental Humanities
7 (2018), 41-58 (p. 43).
28. Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, ‘The Ecology of
Post-Socialism and the Implications of Sustainability for
Contemporary Art’, in Art and Theory after Socialism, ed.
by Melanie Jordan and Malcolm Miles (Bristol: Intellect
Books, 2008), pp. 101-111 (p. 102).
29. Jason W. Moore, ‘The Capitalocene, Part I: on the
nature and origins of our ecological crisis’, The Journal of
Peasant Studies, 44 (3) (2017), 594-630.
30. This diagram was seen in a lecture on environmental
design at the Royal College of Art, Environment, 26
March 2019.
31. Chet A. Bowers, ‘An Ecojustice Approach to
Educational Reform in Adult Education’, New Directions
for Adult and Continuing Education 153 (2017), 53-64.
32. Kerryn Higgs, Collision Course: Endless Growth on a
Finite Planet (Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2014).
33. Joanna Boehnert, Design, Ecology, Politics: Towards
the Ecocene (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), p.
11.
34. Joanna Boehnert, p. 10.
35. George Sholette’s article gives a detailed assessment
not possible in the context of this dissertation, found
in: ‘Untangling Art’s relationship with Capitalism’, Pluto
Press, n.d. <https://www.plutobooks.com/blog/art-and-
capitalism/> [accessed 16 May 2019].
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER ONE
24
36. Such conditions Nathan Jun identifies are the likes
of expansive industrialism, the market economy, and
a tripartite class system functioning on cheap labour.
Each element is required to provide mass-availability of
imaging technology at affordable prices. See: ‘Toward
an anarchist film theory: Reflections on the politics of
cinema’, Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies 1
(2010), 139-161 (pp. 148-149).
37. T.J. Demos, Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary
Art and the Politics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg Press,
2016), p. 19.
38. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, p. 7.
39. T.J. Demos, Against the Anthropocene: Visual
Culture and Environment Today (Berlin: Sternnberg Press,
2017), p. 55.
40. Kayla Anderson, ‘Ethics, ecology, and the future: art
and design face the anthropocene’, ACM SIGGRAPH Art
Papers 2015, 338-347 (p. 346).
41. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin, p. 13.
42. Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, p. 102.
43. Arnold Berlean, ‘What is Aesthetic Engagement?’,
Contemporary Aesthetics 11 (1) (2013), 5-11.
44. Janine Burke, ‘The elephant in the room: Uses and
misuses of animals in curatorial practice’, Art Monthly
Australia 280 (2015), 52-57.
45. The Serpentine, ‘The Shape of a Circle in the Mind
of a Fish’, The Serpentine, 28 May 2018, <https://www.
serpentinegalleries.org/files/downloads/the_shape_of_a_
circle-single_pages-final.pdf?> [accessed 16 May 2019].
46. Joanna Boehnert, p. 7.
47. Artist Lucy Siegle elaborates on this in: ‘Ethical
living: can art be environmentally friendly?’, The
Guardian, 15 April 2012, <https://www.theguardian.com/
environment/2012/apr/15/lucy-siegle-ethical-art-paint>
[accessed 16 May 2019].
48. Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, p. 102.
49. Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, p. 108.
50. Tickell believes that ecological reform could create
an artistic ‘renaissance’. See: ‘Sustainability should be at
the heart of our collective artistic vision’, The Guardian,
25 Oct 2012, <https://www.theguardian.com/culture-
professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2012/
oct/25/sustainability-arts-council-julies-bicycle> [accessed
22 May 2019].
51. The 2017/18 report goes into great length regarding
carbon calculations from energy use, with much less
emphasis on sustainable materials, see: Julie’s Bicycle,
‘Sustaining Great Art and Culture’, Arts Council England,
November 2018, <https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/
default/files/download-file/Sustaining%20Great%20
Art%20and%20Culture%202017_18.pdf> [accessed 22
May 2019].
52. Robert Watson, ‘Loss of biodiversity is just as
catastrophic as climate change’, The Guardian,
6 May 2019, <https://www.theguardian.com/
commentisfree/2019/may/06/biodiversity-climate-change-
mass-extinctions> [accessed 22 May 2019].
53. T.J. Demos, 2016, p. 132.
54. Jason W. Moore, 2017, p. 19.
55. Neil Smith, ‘Nature as Accumulation Strategy’, in
Coming to Terms with Nature, ed. by Leo Panitch and
Colin Leys, Socialist Register 43 (43) (2007).
56. James Fairhead, Melissa Leach and Ian Scoones,
‘Green Grabbing: a new appropriation of nature?’,
Journal of Peasant Studies 39 (2) (2012), 237-261.
57. Nick J Fox and Pam Alldred, ‘New Materialism’,
in The SAGE Encyclopedia of Research Methods,
ed. by P.A. Atkinson et al. (London: Sage, 2018), pp.
1-16 (p. 5). <https://www.researchgate.net/profile/
Nick_Fox3/publication/320016117_New_Materialism/
links/59c8d3b9a6fdccc71929c346/New-Materialism.pdf>
[accessed 1 April 2018].
58. Jane Bennett, Vibrant matter: A Political Ecology of
Things (North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2009), p.
vii and p. 13.
59. For instance, a basic example would be that all plants
and animals depend on the same air particles - and when
we release pollutants or deforest areas, we affect the air
CHAPTER ONE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
25
quality and consequently, the health of all dependent
beings (ourselves included), and so on.
60. Kameron Sanzo, ‘New Materialism(s)’,
Critical Posthumanism, 25 April 2018, < https://
criticalposthumanism.net/new-materialisms/> [accessed
20 June 2019].
61. Jane Bennett, pp. 103-104.
62. By this I refer to a tradition spanning the history
of Western civilisation, and including figures such as
Pythagoras, Montaigne, Bentham and to contemporary
figures such as Peter Singer. See Stephen F. Eisenman,
The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal
Rights (London: Reaktion Books, 2013), for a more
comprehensive history.
63. Jane Bennett, p. 36.
64. Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, ‘Introducing the
New Materialisms’, in New Materialisms ed. by Diana
Coole and Samantha Frost (London: Duke University
Press, 2010), pp. 1-43 (p. 16).
65. Although this is credited by Bennet as originating
with philosopher John Dewey, she adopts it for her idea
of a Materialist ontology, p. 100.
66. Jane Bennett, p. viii.
67. Lecture by Jason W. Moore, ‘Capitalogenic World:
Humanity, Nature and the making of a Planetary Crisis’,
Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art, 21 July 2016,
<https://vimeo.com/226581628> [accessed 23 May 2019],
1h 02m.
68. See Karen Barad, ‘Posthumanist performativity:
Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter,’
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28 (3)
(2003), 801-831, for a detailed explanation.
69. Moore also states capitalism as a world-system
places nature ‘as external’, betraying our interconnected
reality. Nonhuman nature is thus ‘coded, quantified and
rationalized to serve economic growth’, Capitalism in the
Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital
(New York: Verso Books, 2015), p. 2.
70. Barbara Bolt uses Heidegger’s example of silver. See:
‘Introduction’, in Carnal Knowledge: Towards a “New
Materialism” Through the Arts, ed. by Estelle Barrett and
Barbara Bolt (London: Ib Taurus, 2013), pp. 1-15 (p. 6).
71. I refer to cattle in their colloquial term, cows, to
cover males and females whether neutered or having
birthed a calf. However, I acknowledge that in specific
terms, a cow is a female that has birthed at least one calf,
a heifer is a female that has birthed none, a steer is a
castrated male, and a bull is an intact male. See: ‘What’s
the difference between a cow, steer, heifer and bull?’,
Clover Meadows Beef, <http://www.clovermeadowsbeef.
com/cow-heifer-steer-bull/> [accessed 14 June 2019].
72. Katve-Kaisa Kontturi, ‘Moving matters of
contemporary art: Three new materialist propositions’,
 5 (2014), 42-
54, p. 48.
73. Barbara Bolt, p. 55.
74. Emily Jean Hood and Amelia M. Kraehe argue this
point extensively in: ‘Creative matter: New materialism
in art education research, teaching, and learning’, Art
Education 70 (2) (2017), 32-38 (p. 38).
75. For example, consider Dale Chihuly’s current
Reflections on Nature sculptures, dotted with colourful
brilliance amongst the budding flowers of a springtime
Kew Gardens, London. Spiralling in organic tangles of
burning reds and electric blues, the sculptures are said
to seem as if they ‘came from nature’. However, many are
manufactured with Polyvitro, a plastic that would take
several generations to decompose into toxic microplastics
- exposing an inherent contradiction between the
organic artistic representation of the pieces, and their
inorganic materiality. See: Neil Smith, ‘Glass sculptures
invite reflection at Kew Gardens’, BBC News, 12 April
2019, <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-
arts-47910451> [accessed 22 May 2019].
76. Nick J. Fox and Pam Aldred, ‘Sustainability as
ecological potential: Environment, sociology and the
posthuman’, Institute for Interdisciplinary Research
into the Anthropocene, 2017, <https://iiraorg.
com/2017/08/14/118/> [accessed 2 April 2019].
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
26
Figure 9: Oikeutta Eläimille, Beef cattle, 2018.
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
27
CHAPTER TWO:
GELATIN
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
28
In the violent excess of the Capitalocene, it
is unsurprising that gelatin - derived from
the deaths of billions of animals a year - has
left its sticky footprint on many aspects of
industrial-consumer culture.1 Sourced through
hydrolysis from the skin and bones of pigs and
cows - but also goats, fish and others - animal
gelatin is present in vast swathes of food and
other industries due to its unique ‘gelling and
thickening capabilities’.2 3
For film, high-grade gelatin created from
cow bones is required - known as Type B
ossein gelatin.4 Dr. R. L. Maddox was the
first to perfect this use of bovine gelatin
for photographic purposes in the late
nineteenth century - known as the silver
gelatin process. Maddox used gelatin as a
binding agent, attaching the light-sensitive
silver bromide to glass plates in the form
of an emulsion. Having experimented with
a number of different bases derived from
plants, he tried animal gelatin from a sachet
of Nelson’s Gelatine Granules. The results,
Maddox wrote, were ‘very delicate in detail’
and ‘dried to a brilliant surface’.5 Achieving
an unprecedented stability and high light-
sensitivity for dry plates - gelatin was
solidified in photography’s future.6
This breakthrough allowed for photographers
to depart from previous processes, such as
wet plate collodion, requiring a knowledge
of chemistry and expensive equipment
beyond the average citizen’s reach.7 Being
wet, they had to be coated and developed
on location by a trained photographer.
Opposingly, dry plates could be commercially
bought, sold, and used with ease, requiring
little in the way of photographic expertise.8
Entrepreneur George Eastman created
a machine for coating dry plates, before
binding silver gelatin onto rolls of paper
for use in his inaugural - and breathtakingly
popular - Kodak Camera of 1888. The ‘rollable
transparent nitrocellulose film’ preceding
the familiar celluloid form of today was then
created in 1889 - made possible by gelatin’s
unique capabilities. 9 10
Reinhard Schreiber and Dr. Herbert Gareis
observe that modern photography ‘would be
unthinkable today without gelatine’, due to
it gracing the innovation of a cheap, durable
film roll for Eastman’s $25 Kodak camera
(fig.11). Amateurs could photograph at a
‘reasonable cost’ with little effort, and have
their negatives sent off for development
without any prior knowledge.11 Streamlining
the photographic process, cameras swept
through society like a horde of negative-
spewing locusts - powered by the simple press
of a button. Providing amateur accessibility,
the subsequent cash-flow aided ‘large-scale
enterprise in the photographic industry’ -
according to historian Reese V. Jenkins. In
Jenkins’ view, gelatin was nothing short of a
revolution, facilitating industry expansion; see
figure 10, depicting photography’s growth
following Eastman’s incorporation of gelatin.12
But as film’s popularity was picked clean
by merciless digital crows, the demand for
bovine gelatin dropped.13 However, film sales
are once again on the rise - with a sizeable
chunk of its new flock driven by a younger
feather.14 This translates to an increasing
demand for photographic bovine gelatin; in
2017, photographic products swallowed a
weighty 60 kilotonnes (kT) - predicted to rise
to 85kT by 2025.15 That’s roughly 6719 London
double-decker buses in weight by 2025, for
THE RISE OF GELATIN
Figure 10: Reese V. Jenkins, Historic Kodak sales figures, 1975.
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
29
Figure 11: Eastman Kodak, The Kodak Camera advert, circa 1888.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
30
Figure 12: Marjory Collins, Hoisting a slaughtered steer, 1942.
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
31
perspective.16 Although spread across the
industry - including photo paper, X-Rays,
and more - the projected rise in demand for
photographic gelatin is also due to the 5%
year-on-year increase in demand for film,
remaining wholly reliant on bovine gelatin.17
Indeed, leading film manufacturers repeatedly
confirm that there are no viable plant-
based alternatives - as with edible gelatins.
Companies like Ilford attest that they have
experimented with alternatives, but ‘none
perform to the same standard as gelatin’. If
replaced, film would be expensive, ‘fragile,
slow and have a short life’.18 In a patent report
by Ivan Tomka, this is confirmed, with bovine
gelatin the only suitable binding agent in both
the quality of film, and the cost-efficiency
with which it is produced.19 In essence, the
production and use of photographic film is
entirely dependent on gelatin, extracted
from the bones of cattle slaughtered for meat
consumption.
This dependency would have been impossible
to facilitate without the revolution of a
separate, yet interconnected, industry:
intensive animal agriculture. As Eastman
understood, a vast demand for photographic-
grade gelatin would require an equally vast
amount of cows. Therefore, they seized
carcasses from a rapidly expanding meat
industry.20 Detailed by Ellen K. Silbergeld, the
intensive meat industry began in the United
States, adapting the Fordist production-line
to churn out increasingly cheap produce
for mass consumption (fig. 12). Driven by
Capitalocene economics, the low-cost/high-
yield system of intensive meat production
delivered staggering profits for company
owners - quickly ascending to dominance.21 By
the 1960s, meats once considered ‘luxuries...
were now common fare’.22 The rising amount
of deaths meant an equal rise in carcasses
to be transformed into gelatin, thus fueling
a symbiotic growth - with photography’s
ever-increasing popularity strolling merrily
alongside.23
However, whilst freezers are spilling over with
cheap meats, they come at a high ecological
price. As Silberg notes, the transition to
industrialised animal agriculture focused on
improving production ‘by reducing costs
and augmenting profits’ - falling on the
beleaguered shoulders of local ecosystems
and nonhuman welfare.24 Indeed, intensive
techniques require colossal amounts of land
to keep up with demand. Land that could be
otherwise used to harbour wildlife, or grow
a diversity of more sustainable crops. Cow
production alone needs 30 million square
kilometres - 28 times more than pork or
chicken.25 26 With demand increasing, more
land is required, meaning the consistent
destruction of nonhuman habitats. Beef is thus
the leading driver of deforestation, consuming
2.71 million hectares of tropical forest every
year - more than double the other leading
drivers combined.27 This contributes to an
eye-watering loss of wild species, and the
worldwide obliteration of biodiversity.28
Furthermore, beef produces the highest
amount of greenhouse gas emissions per
kilogram, compared with other foods.29
“Whilst freezers are spilling over
with cheap meats, they come at a
high ecological price.”
CHEAP MEAT AND
GELATIN
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
32
Gushing into the atmosphere, meat
production is one of the leading drivers
of climate breakdown and planetary
warming, with the majority generated
by beef, especially methane and carbon
dioxide.30 Persson et al., discovered that
beef production in tropical areas such as the
Amazon creates close to 200 times as much
harmful emissions as soy, and 60 times more
than palm oil as other leaders of deforestation
on a per-calorie basis - making it grossly
inefficient.31
Equally, beef production requires a hefty
amount of freshwater - to the frightening tune
of 15,415 litres per kilogram, contributing to
increasing desertification and water scarcity.32
33 Gelatin production is similarly water-
intensive, whilst polluting local water and land
with acids and other harmful chemicals from
the industrial runoff - especially when created
from bone.34 35
This prioritising of profitability at the
unsustainable expense of natural systems is
precisely as depicted in Shiva’s diagram (fig.
6), and is in contradiction to New Materialist
principles of sustainability. Similarly, valuing
the intrinsic worth of nonhumans is absent
in intensive animal agriculture, particularly
regarding the cows involved. From a New
Materialist perspective, photographic gelatin
is not an isolated substance, but derived
directly from cows. Although historically
escaping the public, the agency of the
analogue photographer is made possible only
by depriving or affecting the agency of the
cow.36
Nonhuman rights organisations frequently
highlight the typically brutal and unnatural
conditions in which cows are kept to produce
meat at a profitable price - as well as the
suffering and deprivation of life from mass
slaughter.37 Paying attention to nonhuman
autonomy, the ‘branding, castration,
dehorning and starvation’, coupled with the
‘forced impregnation’ of mothers and the
subsequent ‘mother-calf separation’ of cattle
in intensive and non-intensive farms is an
infliction in the extreme.38 39 Intensified cattle
are also crammed into feedlots (fig. 13),
and fattened through cereals as opposed to
outdoor grazing of grasses.40 Originating in
North America, the system has quickly spread
worldwide due to its profitability in providing
affordable beef.41 42
Living in desperately unsanitary conditions,
cows are slaughtered after an average of
six years - but can live naturally for twenty-
five.43 44 On human terms, this would mean
death at around twenty.45 During slaughter,
cows are victim to ‘sub-optimal handling’,
as they are ‘coerced roughly’ with electric
prods, beaten with sticks, and subject to a
cacophony of shouts and industrial screams
that dramatically increase stress levels.46 Many
studies confirm that cows are highly emotive
beings, exhibiting undeniable fear and anxiety
responses - especially when mistreated or
being slaughtered.47
Furthermore, an increasing amount of bovine
gelatin is being produced in China, where
animal welfare conditions are notoriously
poor.48 Xiaofei Li et al. report, ‘motivation
in China to improve animal welfare has
been lacking due to concerns that farm
profitability would be adversely affected as
a consequence’.49 Concerns over welfare in
Europe are also rising - equally due to a rise
in intensive farms for profitability - whilst
this ‘blind drive’ for capital over welfare also
thrives in the United States.50 51 With over 300
million cows killed each year, these types of
encroachments on nonhuman agency are a
daily feature in the sequence that produces
photographic gelatin.52 53
Thus, just as the development of photography
is synonymous with gelatin, the use of gelatin
is synonymous with industrialised animal
agriculture, and the ecological implications
above. Indeed, with the toxic thread of profit
over all else snaking throughout, gelatin and
its associated industries are perhaps a prime
example of ‘Capitalocene enterprises’ - a
term coined by T.J. Demos. Although artists
like Sue Coe (fig. 14) have highlighted this
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
33
Figure 13: Oikeutta Eläimille, Beef cattle, 2018.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
34
through content, few have considered
the normalised links to the industry via
materials, like film.54 55 From a New Materialist
perspective, it is difficult to divorce the
industries - their operational reliance and
symbiotic growth/decline considered. With
environmental scientists and animal welfare
advocates agreeing that we must abandon
beef in an ecological society - does this mean
abandoning film? 56
Therefore, the following chapters will examine
gelatin in analogue photography from these
two streams - the environmental impact, and
nonhuman welfare - and the overarching
influence of Capitalocene ideology. Indeed,
bridging the gulf between belief and practice
is imperative to an Ecocene future - especially
if materials are considered as collaborators in
creativity.57 With the growth of environmental
awareness across industrial society, shifts
towards plant-based diets, and a ‘rising
trend’ in sustainable lifestyles - to leave
gelatin unexamined would be resonant with
objectifying perceptions of nonhuman nature,
soon to be collecting dust on the shelves of
an ecological future.58 59 60
Figure 14: Sue Coe, Illustration of bolt gun being used on cow, 1988.
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
35
Figure 15: Compassion in World Farming, EU cattle being slaughtered in the Middle East, 2015.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
36
1. A precise rundown of these deaths is compiled in Bas
Sanders, ‘Global Animal Slaughter Statistics and Charts’,
Faunalytics, 10 October 2018, <https://faunalytics.org/
global-animal-slaughter-statistics-and-charts/> [accessed
2 April 2018].
2. Ademola Monsur Hameed et al., ‘A Review of Gelatin
Source Authentication Methods’, Tropical Life Sciences
Research 29 (2) (2018), 213-227 (p. 221).

of Gelatin and Its Use in Food Industry’, Turkish Journal
of Agriculture-Food Science and Technology 6 (7) (2018),
840-849 (p. 840).
4. Scott W. LaRoche, David J. Roy and John S. Brand,
‘Method of manufacturing gelatin’, U.S. Patent No.
5,908,921 (1999).
5. Maddox quoted in: Tabea Tietz, ‘Richard Leach
Maddox revolutionized Photography’, SciHi Blog, 4
August 2017, <http://scihi.org/richard-leach-maddox-
photography/> [accessed 24 May 2019].
6. S.E. Sheppard, Gelatin in Photography (New York: D.
Van Nostrand, 1923), p. 12-13.
7. Such items included fresh batches of chemicals and a
portable darkroom. See: Reese V. Jenkins, ‘Technology
and the Market: George Eastman and the Origins of Mass
Amateur Photography’, Technology and Culture 16 (1)
(1975), 1-19 (p. 1).
8. This was because, dry plates being dry, they could
sell them premade in shops, whereas with previous wet
processes the photographer would have to prepare the
plates themselves. Equally, the dry plates could be sent
off for development by the company that sold them,
as opposed to immediate development at home or on
location. This meant prior wet processes were limited to
professionals and serious hobbyists.
9. S.E. Sheppard, p. 17.
10. Matthew Sparkes, ‘Kodak: 130 years of history’, The
Telegraph, 19 January 2012, <https://www.telegraph.
co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9024539/
Kodak-130-years-of-history.html> [accessed 2 April 2019].
11. Reinhard Schreiber and Dr. Herbert Gareis, Gelatine
Handbook: Theory and Industrial Practice (New Jersey:
Wiley, 2007), p. 1 and p. 8.
12. Reese V. Jenkins, ‘Technology and the Market:
George Eastman and the Origins of Mass Amateur
Photography’, Technology and Culture 16 (1) (1975), 1-19,
pp. 18-19.
13. The demand was also hampered by Mad Cow
Disease, not just analogue’s failing popularity (despite
originating around the same time).
14. It should be noted Ilford’s survey results are from
2015, seen in: Gannon Burgett, ‘Is film dead? Far from
it according to Ilford’s latest survey’, Imaging Resource,
2 February 2015, <https://www.imaging-resource.com/
news/2015/02/02/is-film-dead-not-according-to-the-
stats-from-ilfords-latest-analog-survey> [accessed 3 April
2019].
15. Acumen Research and Consulting, ‘Gelatin Market
Analysis: Global Industry Size, Share, Trends and Forecast,
2018 - 2026’, p.33, <https://www.globenewswire.com/
news-release/2019/01/22/1703096/0/en/Gelatin-Market-
Worth-US-4-3-Billion-By-2025-Acumen-Research-and-
Consulting.html> [accessed 2 April 2019].
16. A new London double-decker bus weighs 12.65
tonnes. Therefore, 85 kilotonnes (85,000) divided by
12.65 to achieve the final sum. See: John Elledge, ‘“A
bus designed for people who never take buses”: how
London’s Routemaster became a £300m white elephant’
Citymetric, 12 November 2015, <https://www.citymetric.
com/transport/bus-designed-people-who-never-take-
buses-how-londons-routemaster-became-300m-white>
[accessed May 24 2019].
17. Figure seen in Robin Stummer, ‘Back to the
CHAPTER TWO: ENDNOTES
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
37
darkroom: young fans reject digital to revive classic film
camera’, The Guardian, 28 January 2018, <https://www.
theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/28/does-reflex-slr-
camera-herald-35mm-film-renaissance> [accessed 3 April
2019].
18. Ilford, ‘Advice for vegans FAQ’s’, Ilford Photo,
<https://www.ilfordphoto.com/faqs/advice-vegans-faqs/>
[accessed 2 April 2019].
19. Ivan Tomka, ‘Photographic material’, U.S. Patent No.
4,360,590, 23 November (1982).
20. At first Kodak sourced remains globally, before
swapping exclusively to North America suppliers to
ensure tight quality control and consistent supply. Today,
leading gelatin-producer Rousselot supplies the majority
of their gelatin, which is created and sourced around
the globe once again. This history is detailed by Nicole
Shukin in: Animal Capital: Rendering Life in Biopolitical
Times (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2009), pp.
109-113.
21. Ellen K. Silbergeld, ‘One health and the agricultural
transition in food animal production’, Global Transitions 1
(2019), 83-92 (pp. 85-86).
22. Stephen F. Eisenman, The Cry of Nature: Art and the
Making of Animal Rights (London: Reaktion Books, 2013),
p. 242.
23. Schreiber and Gareis provide a detailed timeline of
gelatin’s rise, the increasing availability of animal parts,
and photography’s popularity. Reinhard Schreiber and Dr.
Herbert Gareis, pp. 12-43.
24. Ellen K. Silbergeld, p. 86.
25. Doug Boucher et al., Grade A Choice? Solutions
for Deforestation-Free Meat (Massacheussets: Union of
Concerned Scientists, 2012), p. 11.
26. The United States is 9.834 million square kilometres,
to give physical perspective.
27. Sabine Henders et al., ‘Trading forests: land-use
change and carbon emissions embodied in production
and exports of forest-risk commodities’, Environmental
Research Letters 10 (12) (2015), 125012.
28. Clive A. McAlpine et al., ‘Increasing world
consumption of beef as a driver of regional and global
change: A call for policy action based on evidence from
Queensland (Australia), Colombia and Brazil’, Global
Environmental Change 19 (1) (2009), 21-33 (p. 22).
29. Graph created by BBC, information derived
from: Joseph Poore and Thomas Nemecek, ‘Reducing
food’s environmental impacts through producers and
consumers’, Science 360 (6392) (2018), 987-992.
30. Susan Subak, ‘Global environmental costs of beef
production’, Ecological Economics 30 (1) (1999), 79-91.
31. U. Martin Persson et al., ‘A method for calculating
a land-use change carbon footprint (LUC-CFP) for
agricultural commodities–applications to Brazilian beef
and soy, Indonesian palm oil’, Global Change Biology 20
(11) (2014), 3482-3491.
32. M.M. Mekonnen and A.Y. Hoekstra, The Green, Blue
and Grey Water Footprint of Farm Animals and Animal
Products, Value of Water Research Report Series No. 48
(Delft: UNESCO-IHE, 2010) p. 29.
33. P. W Gerbens-Leenes et al., ‘The water footprint of
poultry, pork and beef: A comparative study in different
countries and production systems’, Water Resources and
Industry 1 (2013), 25-36.
34. Ghatna Trivedi, ‘Waste minimization and energy
conservation in gelatin production by raw material size
minimization’, IJSRD 2 (8) (2014), 249-251.
35. Yanli Ma et al., ‘A simple and eco-friendly method
of gelatin production from bone: One-step biocatalysis’,
Journal of Cleaner Production 209 (2019), 916-926.
36. Nicole Shukin details this distancing, p. 106.
37. Such organisations include People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA).
38. Whilst these examples may seem biased or extreme,
they are in fact industry norms. Quote taken from:
Andrew McGregor and Donna Houston, ’Cattle in the
Anthropocene: Four propositions’, Transactions of the
Institute of British Geographers 43 (1) (2018), 3-16 (p.
11).
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER TWO
38
39. Even if conditions are better on in an organic farm,
the cattle are still subject to the same regime of bodily
mutilation. See: Stephen F. Eisenman, p. 249.
40. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein et al. give a thorough
run down of feedlots in, ‘Welfare Issues in Feedlot Cattle’,
in The Welfare of Cattle ed. by Terry Engle et al. (Florida:
CRC Press, 2018), pp. 211-227.
41. Andrew Wasley and Heather Kroeker, ‘Revealed:
industrial-scale beef farming comes to the UK’, The
Guardian, 29 May 2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/
environment/2018/may/29/revealed-industrial-scale-beef-
farming-comes-to-the-uk> [accessed 2 June 2019].
42. D. D. Millen and M. D. B. Arrigoni, ‘Drivers of change
in animal protein production systems: Changes from
‘traditional’ to ‘modern’ beef cattle production systems in
Brazil’, Animal Frontiers 3 (3) (2013), 56-60.
43. M.W. Fox, Eating with Conscience, The Bioethics of
Food (Oregon: NewSage Press, 1997), p. 120.
44. N. Mohd Nor et al., ‘The average culling rate of
Dutch dairy herds over the years 2007 to 2010 and its
association with herd reproduction performance and
health’, Journal of Dairy Research (2013), 1-8.
45. The average age of a human is 79 years as of 2019.
If 6 (average cow age) goes into their natural age of
25 (roughly) 4 times, then 79 divided by 4 gives the
comparison of 19.75 years rounded up to 20.
46. Chiara Disanto et al., ‘Stress factors during cattle
slaughter’, Italian Journal of Food Safety 3 (3) (2014),
143-144 (p. 143).
47. Lori Marino and Kristin Allen give an overview of
these studies in: ‘The Psychology of Cows’, Animal
Behaviour and Cognition 4 (4) (2017), 474-498.
48. This is taken from a 2016 interview with leading
gelatin producer Rousselot’s (Kodak’s supplier)
managing director, Mr. Jos Vervoort. He speaks
on how bovine bone is mainly produced in North
America, China and Europe. His associate Mr. Stuewe
then explains how there is a continued increase in
available raw material in China and South America, with
production often internalised (raw material sourced
domestically) for gelatin. See: Mr. Jos Vervoort et al.,
‘Darling Ingredients Investor - Analyst Forum’, Ubiqus,
14 September 2016, <https://ir.darlingii.com/.../
Investor+Analyst+Forum+Transcript+Sep+14+2016.pdf>
[accessed 2 June 2019], p. 2 and p. 10.
49. Xiaofei Li et al., ‘Perception of animal welfare issues
during Chinese transport and slaughter of livestock by a
sample of stakeholders in the industry’, PloS One 13 (6)
(2018), e0197028.
50. Sophie Kevany, ‘Abuse of animals rife on farms
across Europe, auditors warn’, The Guardian, 14 Nov
2018, <https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/
nov/14/farm-animal-abuses-widespread-across-europe-
warn-auditors> [accessed 4 June 2019].
51. Ryan Gunderson, ‘From Cattle to Capital: Exchange
Value, Animal Commodification, and Barbarism’, Critical
Sociology 39 (2) (2011), 259-275.
52. FAO, ‘Livestock Primary, World + (Total), Producing
Animals/Slaughtered, Meat, cattle, 2017’, Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, <http://
www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QL> [accessed 8 June
2019].
53. It is important to note that human workers are
also severely exploited in the beef industry, often
experiencing illegal work conditions and abuse, with
many also suffering psychological trauma - especially
slaughterhouse workers. See: Benjamin E. Baran et.
al, ‘Routinized killing of animals: Going beyond dirty
work and prestige to understand the well-being of
slaughterhouse workers’, Organization 23 (3) (2016),
351-369. Due to the limits of word count, the focus is on
nonhuman nature, but the impacts from beef production
on human welfare should not be ignored or seen as
lesser.
54. For example, Sue Coe’s book of illustrations Dead
Meat, giving haunting depictions from direct observations
of factory farms and feedlots in the United States. See:
Sue Coe, Dead Meat (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1996).
55. I have so far identified only two artists critiquing
this relationship of gelatin to factory farming - Zoe
Strauss and Janelle Young. See: Zoe Strauss and Janelle
Young, ‘Gelatin’, Photographic Gelatin, <https://
photographicgelatin.wordpress.com/author/zoestrauss/>
[accessed 6 June 2019].
CHAPTER TWO
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
39
56. Marco Springmann et al., ‘Options for keeping the
food system within environmental limits’, Nature 562
(7728) (2018), 519.
57. This is known as the ‘value-action gap’, see: Stewart
Barr, ‘Environmental Action in the Home: Investigating
the ‘Value-Action’ Gap’, Geography 91 (1) (2006), 43–54
(p. 43).
58. Climate Policy Watch detail this trend in: ‘The Growth
Of Environmental Awareness’, Climate Policy Watch, 12
September 2018 <https://www.climate-policy-watcher.
org/earth-surface-2/the-growth-of-environmental-
awareness.html> [accessed 3 April 2019].
59. The Vegan Society have compiled a list of sources
to demonstrate this. See: ‘Statistics’, The Vegan Society,
<https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics>
[accessed 3 April 2019].
60. Leyla Acaroglu, ‘The Rising Trend of Zero Waste
Lifestyles’, Inter Press Service, 11 March 2019, <http://
www.ipsnews.net/2019/03/rising-trend-zero-waste-
lifestyles/> [accessed 3 April 2019].
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
40
CHAPTER THREE:
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
41
Across the interviews, and from a survey
conducted by Ilford asking their customers
why they shoot film in a digital age - one of
the leading motivations is film’s materiality.1
For them, film’s physical presence sticks out
like a lone rock in the bleary-eyed mists of our
abstract digital ether, waiting to be carved
into a statue of nostalgic beauty. Running like
silk through the fingers as you inspect each
negative against the light, or hearing it roar
through the camera like a revving Ferrari -
film as tangible material is something digital
cameras find impossible to reproduce.
For example, Imran Perretta states that
film’s ’more material engagement’ gives it a
‘sculptural and poetic value’, whilst another
interviewee extolls the ‘tangible link to the
physical process’ of film.2 As opposed to a
digital file taking up a few megabytes on a
hard drive, the negative as tangible object
that can be touched, inspected, and archived
without fear of overnight disappearance keeps
film alive under a landslide of digital junk.
From a New Materialist perspective, this
attention to film’s physicality could be
lauded - at least on the sprocket-holed
surface. Indeed, contrary to Dr. Konturri’s
generalisation for artistic practice - analogue
photographers are an outlier, in that they do
not ‘neglect’ film’s material presence within
the process of creation.3 The ballet between
photographer and film could be seen as
collaboratively-aware, with users remaining
ever conscious of its physical presence
over the more ethereal aspects of digital.
Furthermore, four-fifths of interviewees
are equally conscious of film containing
nonhuman gelatin prior to the interview
- although only one-third felt it affected
whether they may use it or not.4 Despite this
majority acknowledgment of gelatin in making
film’s materiality possible - this does not
extend to the potential ecosystem impacts -
as is key to a New Materialist art practice.
This is not to say that the interviewees ignore
film’s environmental impact altogether.
Indeed, considering the toxic cornucopia
associated with analogue photography - such
as contaminating bleaches - why question
gelatin? This notion is expressed by several
of the interviewees, and other professionals.
For instance, Perretta typically focuses on
the ‘ecological impact of film processing
and toxic waste’ as opposed to gelatin.5
Equally, filmmaker Tyrone Lebon admits that
his awareness has always been ‘in regards
to considering how analogue processes are
more environmentally damaging’, without
much consideration of the bovine gelatin.6
Furthermore, film developing lab owner
James Carter in an article for PetaPixel argues
that ‘to think ecologically’ about film requires
analysis of the chemicals used - not gelatin.7
To many working with analogue, the use of
gelatin is insignificant from an environmental
perspective, as it is a harmless byproduct.8
Ilford have addressed the issue, justifying
gelatin’s use as a byproduct and hence
acceptable - in that no animals are killed
solely for film.9 People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA) claim that Fuji
and Kodak agree, although they do not
publically offer a similar justification as with
Ilford.10 ADOX films take it a step further,
declaring that ‘no animals are killed especially
for making gelatin’, and ‘not using film will
have no impact at all’, due to the fact it is
a byproduct of which only a small amount
is used per roll. Indeed, ADOX go as far as
to claim that using gelatin is ‘the product
of choice’ for environmentally conscious
individuals, and that it is in fact ‘very
ecological’.11 A number of interviewees agree,
with one stating that it is ecologically ‘best to
TO BYPRODUCT OR
NOT TO BYPRODUCT?
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
42
use the killed animal to the very last bit’.12
However, as detailed in Chapter Two, gelatin
is synonymous with industrialised meat
production, and the myriad of ecological
disasters perpetuated in lining the pockets
of a handful of corporate giants.13 That said,
the belief of harmless byproduct is widely
held, placing a sticky hand over the mouth
of ecological critique. But following a New
Materialist investigation, are film producers
simply recycling the cut offs in pursuit of
sustainability, or are they bolstering the meat
industry and proliferating its environmental
harms in some way? To evaluate, we must
look through gelatin’s translucent haze, and
determine how many cows are involved.
Thankfully, ADOX and information from
Acumen Research and Consulting can provide
some clarity. ADOX claim that they require
between 3 and 9 grams of bovine gelatin to
coat roughly 16 rolls of film.14 For ease, we
will assume a mean amount of 6g for 16 rolls,
or 0.375g for 1 roll. As gelatin use is typically
standardised across the industry, we can
take this figure as the norm for the purposes
of this discussion.15 16 Although it is difficult
to ascertain how much gelatin is obtained
per kilogram of bone mass, a patent report
from Eastman Gelatine states that 15% of
initial bone mass is converted into gelatin.17
With an average of 60.9kg of bone per cow
slaughtered for beef, we thus get 9.135kg
of gelatin from each cow.18 This translates
to 24,360 rolls per cow, in line with ADOX’s
coating methods, verifying their ‘tens of
thousands’ claim.19 20
In film’s heyday of 2003, 960 million rolls
were estimated to have sold for consumer
purposes.21 This would mean 39,408 cows
per year.22 Undoubtedly, film consumption
has significantly dropped. President of
Fujifilm’s imaging division Manny Almeida
put these sales at 2% in 2017, translating
to approximately 788 cows per year.23 24
Assuming Ilford’s film sales rising at 5% year-
on-year is across the industry, that would at
the end of 2019 mean an increase to 869 cows
for consumer film stocks alone (fig. 16). In
the context of a global kill count of over 300
million cows for the meat industry, this is a
conservative fraction.25 26
For the photography industry as a whole, we
must look to the figures provided by Acumen
Research and Consulting. They report that
60kT of gelatin were purchased for use in
2017, or 66.25kT in 2019 based on their
projections.27 This would translate to an
extraordinary 7,252,326 cows a year for the
entire photography industry.28 Considering the
300 million cows killed globally, this would
mean over 2% of bones are used for the
photography industry as a whole.29 The rising
demand for photographic gelatin therefore
equals a rise in this percentage. Thus, film’s
renaissance comes with an ever-swelling bag
of bones around its neck.
But the meat industry does not simply give
away these bones as an altruistic recycling
initiative. As veterinary researchers have
explained, the ‘proper utilization’ of animal
byproducts ‘contributes significantly to the
profitability of meat business’ and assists
greatly in the ‘costs of slaughter house
operations’ and more, ultimately of huge
benefit to the industry.30 With 10-15% of an
animal’s value being in its byproducts, we can
estimate that for the meat industry (valued
at USD 4.2 trillion in 2016) - byproducts
contribute between USD 420 and 630 billion
to that market alone.31 32 Not an amount
to be sniffed at, when operating with a
profit-focused Capitalocene logic. Crucially,
byproduct sales help keep the industry afloat,
as the cost of raising livestock outstrips that
of the ‘selling price of the carcass’.
Therefore, whilst analogue photographers
may have fallen for the byproduct justification
hook, line, and sinker - it is not so simple.
The number of cows involved in consumer
film stocks, and the industry as a whole,
directly challenges the byproduct claim. This
is compounded by the fact that, without the
sale of byproducts to create materials such
as photographic gelatin, the meat industry
869 COWS IN 2019
Figure 16: Edward Maughan-Carr, 869 cows visualised, 2019.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
44
would potentially endure an existential crisis.
Although not as much as during the twentieth
century, film and intensive farming are still
co-dependent to some degree. Thus, the 869
cows for consumer stocks, or the 7,252,326
for the entire photography industry - are
extremely present in film’s materiality, and
not simply anonymous objects to deliver a
fresh roll of film into your camera. Ultimately,
cows as material beings are the true
collaborators in film’s much fetishised, yet
narrow physicality - tumbling hoof-first from
photography’s skeleton cupboard.
Acknowledging the material reality of this
collaboration between cow and photographer,
we must investigate the environmental
impact it may have - and whether ADOX’s
claims of film being the ‘product of choice’
for ecologically-minded photographers are
verifiable. With sustainability as essential
to a New Materialist art practice, we can
use some of the indicators of environmental
impact highlighted in Chapter Two’s overview
of the meat industry. Indicators such as: land
use, deforestation, greenhouse gases, and
water use/waste. Whilst the interviewees
rightfully consider the toxic chemicals/heavy
metals used for film production, it would be
contradictory to ignore the implications of
using bovine gelatin - although the cow’s
lolling tongue is far removed from the neatly
stacked shelves at your local photography
shop (fig. 17).
However, thanks to the above calculations,
we can make some indicative assessments of
gelatin’s footprint (fig. 18). In terms of land
usage, estimates suggest that to produce a
single cow for slaughter requires between 2
and 5 acres of land.34 Using an average of 3.5
acres, we can calculate that for consumer film
Figure 17: Zoe Strauss, Image from series on gelatin production, 2015.
GELATIN’S STICKY
FOOTPRINT
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
45
stocks, 3041.5 acres of land are required to
produce the necessary amount of gelatin for
2019.35 Translated to 12.3 square kilometres
(km²), this is a minute fraction of the 30
million km² for global cow production. For
photography as a whole - with 7,252,326
cows required - this results in 25,383,141
acres, or 102,721.9km².36 Significantly higher,
these figures are an indictment for the entire
industry - but are a drop in the land-guzzling
bucket of animal agriculture. Although
dwarfed by cattle in their entirety, these are
still vast areas of land. For comparison, the
largest wilderness area in the United States is
9,078,675 acres.37
Such land use often comes hand in hand with
deforestation. The majority of deforestation
for beef occurs in South America - not one
of the leading suppliers of cow bones at
present.38 However, this source is increasing,
thus some speculation is relevant. In such
areas, cattle is kept at roughly one head per
2.5 acres.39 In the same area of Amazonian
rainforest, we get an average of 565 trees.40
Therefore, one cow equals around 565 trees in
tropical rainforests. As the majority of bones
are sourced from other regions at present
- it is best to focus on expected increases
in cows needed, as film and photographic
gelatin sales rise.41 For consumer film stocks,
projecting to 2025 would demand an extra
295 cows - removing 166,675 trees.42 For the
entire industry, to 2025 would add 2,052,545
cows - or 1,159,687,925 extra trees.43
Although this seems excessive, it is worth
remembering that between 3.5 billion and 7
billion tropical rainforest trees are cut down
each year (with beef as the main culprit).44
Whilst the above is a useful indicator, as
the majority of bones are sourced from
other nations at present, focusing on more
immediate impacts is arguably of greater
concern. Beef production is widely criticised
for generating huge amounts of greenhouse
gases - particularly methane and carbon
dioxide (CO2). One beef cow produces 50.5kg
of methane annually.45 As a cow matures at
two and is slaughtered at six, we can assume
four solid years of producing this amount,
equalling 202kg of methane produced in a
cow’s adulthood.46 The cows required for
2019’s consumer film stocks would thus
produce 175,538kg of methane during
adulthood, or 1,464,969,852kg for the entire
photography industry - towering amounts
alone, yet dwarfed by animal agriculture.47 48
For carbon dioxide, 22kg of CO2 is produced
per kg of beef - averaging 4994kg CO2 per
cow.49 So for consumer stocks in 2019 it
equals 4,339,786kg, and 36,218,116,044kg
of CO2 for the entire photography industry.
Again, whilst weighty figures, they pale
in comparison to CO2 emissions from the
overall meat industry, or other hotly-criticised
industries such as aviation.50 51
Water follows a similar story. As mentioned, to
raise a cow for beef demands huge amounts
of water - 15,415 litres per kilogram of beef,
to be exact. At an average of 227kg beef per
cow, this means 3,499,205 litres per cow.52 For
consumer stocks, we would therefore arrive at
3,040,809,145 litres. For the industry at large
we would exceed well above the trillions.
Gelatin production itself is also water-
intensive, generating up to 2722 tonnes of
wastewater per tonne of gelatin.53 With 7.938
tonnes of gelatin needed for consumer stocks,
this equals 21,607 tonnes of wastewater,
or 21,607,000 litres.54 Again, the whole
photography industry exceeds into several
billion. It is key to reiterate that this water is
also highly acidic and damaging to wildlife.
Viewed together, the above calculations give
some brief insight into the environmental
impact of gelatin that the interviewees may
have overlooked.55 It is essential to be aware
that these are not just abstract numbers,
but tangible consequences devastating
ecosystems across the globe. Although
species decline, water pollution, and other
negative impacts are not calculated above,
they are also occurring on a daily basis.56
However, whilst the discussed ecological
impacts are high - they are but a smudge
in the filthy records of environmental
destruction, when viewed against the
Figure 18: Edward Maughan-Carr, Gelatin’s environmental impact infographic, 2019.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
48
behemoth of animal agriculture.
Reduced to individual use, the impact of a
roll of film is clearly much less than a grease-
laden McDonald’s hamburger - sold at a rate
of 75 per second.57 Indeed, several of the
interviewees express this sentiment. Amy
Douglas-Morris points out that gelatin in
film is in no way close to the ‘unsustainable
rate at which we consume meat’. 58 Another
interviewee agrees, believing there are better
ways to reduce environmental impact than
film, such as meat - making it ecologically
inconsequential and thereby legitimate.59
Similarly, celebrated filmmaker Charlotte
Pryce argued as such in a post-screening
discussion at the International Film Festival
Rotterdam.60 Pryce felt that her work -
often produced alone - was so insignificant
in its consumption, that it posed little
environmental dilemma.61
However, each action should be seen as a
trans-action, existing within a network of
relations that affects other participants in
an ecosystem - no matter how small.62 If
we are to ‘think through the limits’ of our
present exploitative culture, using artistic
practice to envision a ‘radical future’ -
then we must depart from the resigned
acceptance that artistic production must
cause environmental harm, regardless of
the personal contribution.63 Indeed, this is
Capitalocene thinking at its worst, seeing the
nonhuman world as a dumpster to advance
anthropocentric gains. In transforming the
destructive traditions of our current era,
revolutionising the inherent sustainability of
artistic form is paramount - but impossible
if we refuse to accept the impact, despite
comparisons to other industries.
Furthermore, the film industry is inextricably
bound to an endless growth Capitalocene
model, and so these impacts will inevitably
worsen.64 Whilst the industry celebrates film’s
resurgence as an artistic renaissance, this
only validates an ecologically-anachronistic
medium, whilst piling the bleeding coffers of
gelatin producers, meat conglomerates, and
Figure 19: Giulia Marchi, Tibetan monk exhibiting images of fish poisoning, 2017.
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
49
photography companies. Thus, it is anything
but a renaissance in genuine terms, as it
conforms to the destructive environmental
traditions that have been conducting our
planetary orchestra into symphonic oblivion
for the past few centuries.65
If sustainability of form takes priority over
content, then a true renaissance for artistic
practice would strive towards transience,
biodegradability, or non-toxic construction.
At its most radical, an art without objects
is envisioned by some theorists.66 Film
negatives are the opposite - celebrated for
their ‘archival’ resilience, made possible
by gelatin on plastic (fig. 20). An epitome
of Capitalocene art object mimicking
industrialism; the negative is created in a
matter of seconds, depends on growing
unsustainable extraction and consumption to
exist, then lasts for several lifetimes - where
if not treasured, it adds ammunition to the
‘ticking time bomb’ of landfill sites.67 Thus,
this may lead some to think that digital - in
producing immaterial images - could be a
more sustainable alternative for ecological
creativity.
Unfortunately, as many of the interviewees
point out, the immateriality of digital is
also an illusion.68 Much like gelatin-as-cow
is distant from analogue film’s immediate
physicality, digital cameras have their
own destructive legacy. For example, the
rechargeable lithium-ion batteries needed
to power them are responsible for a litany of
environmental disasters around the world -
from ‘masses of dead fish’ in Tibet (fig. 19),
to the rampant contamination of drinking
water in South America affecting humans and
wildlife alike.69 70 As most analogue cameras
function without electricity and are sourced
second-hand, such impacts are absent.
Conversely, one could argue that digital
technology can also be bought second-hand,
avoiding direct impact. Camera bodies aside,
analogue film is single-use, unlike digital
memory cards.
Figure 20: Bart Everson, Analogue film stock, 2006.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
50
Regardless, both industries rely on relentless
extraction, and are overseen by a profit-
focused structure. Thus, natural systems
will always place at the bottom of Shiva’s
unsustainable hierarchy (fig. 6). Perhaps the
most radical future - in terms of sustainability
- is to reassess widespread photographic
image-making as a whole, considering its
inseparable links to Capitalocene culture,
intent on engulfing the Earth.71 Of course,
many photographers would resist such an
assessment - with their reluctance to abandon
film as evident in the interviews, even when
self-proclaimed vegans or ecologically-
conscious artists.72
Unfortunately, for artistic purposes/consumer
stocks, the relatively low numbers of cows
and environmental impact will remain a
cause for challenge, regardless of the above
arguments.73 With roughly ten cows killed
every second - film for consumer stocks
can fill its boots with gelatin in under two
minutes, signifying the comparatively low
environmental impact.74 Thus, exploring
gelatin from a nonhuman welfare perspective
as opposed to solely environmental is perhaps
needed to overturn skepticism.75 Indeed,
to transcend Capitalocene limits in artistic
practice, we must rightly consider both
nonhuman welfare and environmental impact
together, in vying for a radical Ecocene future.
1. Ilford Photo’s survey has a reasons for shooting film
section, where several categories fall under film’s material
presence, such as ‘the archival qualities’, ‘printing in a
darkroom’ and ‘processing my own film’, all possible due
to the physical nature of film. I have placed them under
the general heading of materiality. See: Ilford, ‘Ilford
Photo Global Film Users Survey, the Results are in’, Il ford
Photo Blog, 10 January 2019, <https://www.ilfordphoto.
com/ilford-photo-global-film-users-survey-the-results-are-
in/> [accessed 17 June 2019]. For the interviews, see 1, 2,
3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, and 15, pp. 70-85.
2. See interviews 3 and 8, p. 72 and p. 77.
3. Chapter One, ‘New Materialism and Artistic Form’.
4. The four-fifths includes interviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 - all responding with a variation
of Yes to the question ‘Are you aware that an essential
ingredient of analogue film is gelatin?’, pp. 70-85. For the
one-third, see 1, 2, 5, 8, 13, pp. 70-83.
5. See interview 3, p. 72.
6. See interview 6, p. 75.
7. James Carter, ‘How Many Animals Were Harmed in
the Making of this Camera Film?’, PetaPixel, 3 December
2018, <‘https://petapixel.com/2018/12/03/how-many-
animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-camera-film/>
[accessed 3 April 2019].
8. This is the same line that the gelatin industry uses, in
that they are providing a public good by recycling animal
carcasses. In fact, they advertise it as a ‘green industry
that protects the environment’. See: D.L. Meeker and C.
R. Hamilton, ‘An Overview of the Rendering Industry’,
Essential Rendering, January 2006, <https://www.
researchgate.net/publication/288882827_An_overview_
of_the_rendering_industry> [accessed 10 June 2019].
9. Ilford, ‘Advice for vegans FAQ’s’, Ilford Photo,
<https://www.ilfordphoto.com/faqs/advice-vegans-faqs/>
[accessed 2 April 2019].
10. PETA, ‘Does film contain gelatin?’, People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals, <https://www.peta.org/
about-peta/faq/does-film-contain-gelatin/> [accessed 3
April 2019].
11. Mirko Böddecker, ‘May I Use Film if I am a Vegan?’,
ADOX, 12 January 2018 <http://www.adox.de/Photo/
may-i-use-film-if-i-am-a-vegan/> [accessed 3 April 2019].
12. See interview 14, p. 84.
13. Most meat production is now overseen by a few
mega-corporations. For meat, see: Shefali Sharma,
‘Mighty Giants: Leaders of the Global Meat Complex’,
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, 10 April 2018,
<https://www.iatp.org/blog/leaders-global-meat-
complex> [accessed 12 June 2019].
CHAPTER THREE:
ENDNOTES
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
51
14. Böddecker, ADOX article.
15. Scott W. LaRoche, David J. Roy and John S. Brand,
‘Method of manufacturing gelatin’, U.S. Patent No.
5,908,921 (1999).
16. It is important to note that these statistics are all
garnered through secondary research, and thus are only
indicative.
17. Robert F. Rainville et al., ‘Gelatin and method of
manufacture’, U.S. Patent No. 6,080,843 (2000).
18. R.A. Afolayan et al., ‘Prediction of Carcass Meat, Fat,
and Bone Yield Across Diverse Cattlegenotypes Using
Live-Animal Measurements’, Anim. Prod. Aust (24) (2002),
13-16 (p. 14).
19. 9.135kg divided by 0.375gms to get rolls per cow.
20. Böddecker, ADOX article. They claim that each
animal produces ‘tens of thousands’ of rolls.
21. President of Fujifilm’s imaging division Manny
Almeida quoted in: Olivier Laurent, ‘This Is Why Film
Photography Is Making a Comeback’, Time Magazine,
26 January 2017, <http://time.com/4649188/film-
photography-industry-comeback/> [accessed 3 April
2019].
22. 960 million divided by 24,360 rolls per cow.
23. Manny Almeida, Time Magazine.
24. Based on 19.2 million as 2% of 960 million, then
divided by number of rolls per cow.
25. Figure seen across the internet but original source
untraceable, such as in Robin Stummer, ‘Back to the
darkroom: young fans reject digital to revive classic film
camera’, The Guardian, 28 January 2018 <https://www.
theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/28/does-reflex-slr-
camera-herald-35mm-film-renaissance> [accessed 3 April
2019].
26. The precise figure for 2017 is 304,414,858 cows.
See: FAO, ‘Livestock Primary, World + (Total), Producing
Animals/Slaughtered, Meat, cattle, 2017’, Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, n.d.
<http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/QL> [accessed 8
June 2019].
27. Acumen predict a rise to 85kT in 2025 from 60kT
in 2017 - making a 25kT increase over 8 years equal
to 3.125kT added each year, resulting in 66.25kT for
2019, in: ‘Gelatin Market Analysis: Global Industry Size,
Share, Trends and Forecast, 2018 - 2026’, Globe News
Wire, p.33, <https://www.globenewswire.com/news-
release/2019/01/22/1703096/0/en/Gelatin-Market-Worth-
US-4-3-Billion-By-2025-Acumen-Research-and-Consulting.
html> [accessed 2 April 2019].
28. This figure is calculated from 66.25kT total gelatin
divided by 9.135kg derived per cow.
29. It is key to note a significant disparity between
the total cows used for the photography industry and
consumer films, of which only further industry analysis
could reveal as to why.
30. A. Irshad and B.D. Sharma, ’Abattoir by-Product
Utilization for Sustainable Meat Industry: A Review’, J.
Anim. Pro. Adv. 5 (6) (2015), 681-696 (p. 682).
31. A. Irshad and B.D. Sharma, p. 682.
32. Grand View Research, ‘Meat, Poultry & Seafood
Market Size, Share, Industry Report 2018-2025’,
Grand View Research, April 2018 <https://www.
grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/meat-poultry-
seafood-market?utm_source=pressrelease&utm_
medium=referral&utm_campaign=PRN_May28_
MeatPoultrySeafoodRD2&utm_content=Content>
[accessed 3 April 2019].
33. A. Irshad and B.D. Sharma, p. 682.
34. William D. McBride and Kenneth Mathews, Jr., ‘The
Diverse Structure and Organization of U.S. Beef Cow-Calf
Farms’, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Economic Research
Service 73 (2011), p. 12-13.
35. 869 cows for film stocks multiplied by 3.5 to receive
the figure 3041.5 acres (rounded up).
36. Number of cows multiplied by 3.5 to receive the
final acreage. Square kilometres determined via google
conversion (rounded up).
37. U.S. Forest Service, ‘Table 7 - National Wilderness
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
52
Areas by State’, U.S. Forest Service, 14 November 2008,
<https://www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/lar/2008/TABLE_7.htm>
[accessed 10 June 2019].
38. Indeed, in the United States and Sub-saharan Africa
beef is not a leading driver of deforestation, as the land
taken up is often low in trees to begin with. See: Union of
Concerned Scientists, ‘Beef Cattle’, Union of Concerned
Scientists, 2016, <https://www.ucsusa.org/global-
warming/stop-deforestation/drivers-of-deforestation-
2016-beef-cattle> [accessed 10 June 2019].
39. The statistic is given in hectares, which I converted
to acres to the land use statistics above. 1 hectare equals
2.47105 acres, rounded up to 2.5 for ease. For the
statistic of one head per hectare, see: J.B. Veiga et al.,
‘Cattle ranching in the Amazon Rainforest’, Proc. Aust.
Soc. Anim. Prod 24 (2002), 253-256 (p. 254).
40. Has ter Steege et al., ‘Hyper dominance in the
Amazonian Tree Flora’, Science 342 (6156) (2013),
1243092.
41. Mr. Jos Vervoort et al., ‘Darling Ingredients
Investor - Analyst Forum’, Ubiqus, 14
September 2016, <https://ir.darlingii.com/.../
Investor+Analyst+Forum+Transcript+Sep+14+2016.pdf>
[accessed 2 June 2019], p. 2.
42. The extra 295 cows is calculated using Harman
Technology’s projected 5% increase from 869 in 2019 to
1164 in 2025. Then subtracting 869 from 1164 to acquire
the difference of 295.
43. This is using Acumen’s figures of 85kT of gelatin
for the photographic industry by 2025. 85kT divided
by 9.135kg per cow equals 9,304,871 cows in 2019.
Then subtract 7,252,326 to get the added difference
of 2,052,545 cows - multiplied by 565 to achieve
159,687,925 trees.
44. Rainforest Action Network formulated this statistic
from other sources. See: ‘How many trees are cut down
every year’, The Understory: The Blog of Rainforest
Action Network, <https://www.ran.org/the-understory/
how_many_trees_are_cut_down_every_year/> [accessed
10 June 2019].
45. PhD researcher Sarah Connors specialises in
methane emissions, and calculated this amount from
pre-existing statistics in, ‘How much methane does a
cow actually produce?’, Much Ado About Climate, 1
October 2014, <https://muchadoaboutclimate.wordpress.
com/2014/10/01/how-much-methane-does-a-cow-
actually-produce/> [accessed 10 June 2019].
46. 50.5 multiplied by 4 years.
47. Number of cows for photographic gelatin in 2019
multiplied by 202.
48. Keith R. Lassey, ‘Livestock methane emission: from
the individual grazing animal through national inventories
to the global methane cycle’, Agricultural and Forest
Meteorology 142 (2-4) (2007), 120-132.
49. The average amount of meat from a beef cow is
227kg. Therefore, 22 multiplied by 227 equals 4994kg per
cow.
50. For an indication of CO2 emissions from beef overall,
see: Alex Avery and Dennis Avery, ‘Beef Production
and Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, Environmental Health
Perspectives 116 (9) (2008), A374-A375.
51. Werner Rothengatter, ‘Climate change and the
contribution of transport: Basic facts and the role of
aviation’, Transportation Research Part D: Transport and
Environment 15 (1) (2010), 5-13.
52. The average of 227kg is converted from 500 pounds,
seen in: Rob Holland et al., ‘How much meat to expect
from a beef carcass’, University of Tennessee Institute of
Agriculture Extension Publication 1822 (2014), 1-12 (p.
11).
53. The amount of 2722 metric tonnes is converted
from 3000 US tons, as seen in: Ghatna Trivedi, ‘Waste
minimization and energy conservation in gelatin
production by raw material size minimization’, IJSRD 2 (8)
(2014), 249-251 (p. 250).
54. 7.938 tonnes was calculated as such: 9.35kg of
gelatin per cow, multiplied by 869 cows for 2019,
equalling 7938.315kg. Converted to tonnes, we get 7.938
(rounded down).
55. And by this assumption, other analogue
photographers.
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
53
56. These are left out due to a lack of reliable data.
57. Ryan Guenette, ‘Five things you didn’t know about
McDonald’s’, USA Today, 19 November 2013, <https://
eu.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2013/11/19/five-
things-about-mcdonalds/3643557/> [accessed 10 June
2019].
58. See interview 9, p. 78.
59. The interviewee states in full: ‘No - I eat meat etc
and so if I was going to minimise my impact on animal life
there are easier places to start than with removing myself
from analogue photography’. See interview 8, p. 77.
60. Charlotte Pryce received audience questions after the
screening of her films on nonhuman nature. International
Film Festival Rotterdam, The Wonders of Nature, Film
screening with artist’s discussion, 25 January 2019,
<https://iffr.com/en/2019/combinedprogrammes/the-
wonders-of-nature> [accessed 12 June 2019].
61. It is important to note that Pryce’s work often deals
with human/nonhuman relationships.
62. Philosopher Timothy Morton uses the example
of how turning a car’s ignition, although a seemingly
innocuous act, contributes to climate change in a
small but significant way. Quoted in: Alex Blasdel, ‘ ‘A
reckoning for our species’: the philosopher prophet of the
Anthropocene’, The Guardian, 15 June 1017, <https://
www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/timothy-
morton-anthropocene-philosopher> [accessed 12 June
2019].
63. See Chapter One, ‘Anthropocene...or Capitalocene?’.
64. See Chapter One, ‘Anthropocene...or Capitalocene?’.
65. Jason W. Moore puts the origins of the Capitalocene
at the 16th Century, when the ‘agrarian class struggle
turned in favor of the gentry’, and colonialism began to
take hold. See: ‘The Capitalocene, Part I: on the nature
and origins of our ecological crisis’, The Journal of
Peasant Studies 44 (3), 594-630.
66. Maja Fowkes and Reuben Fowkes, ‘The Ecology of
Post-Socialism and the Implications of Sustainability for
Contemporary Art’, in Art and Theory after Socialism, ed.
by Melanie Jordan and Malcolm Miles (Bristol: Intellect
Books, 2008), pp. 101-111 (p. 103).
67. Robbie Stainforth, ‘Why UK landfills are a ticking time
bomb’, Growth Business, 12 June 2017, <https://www.
growthbusiness.co.uk/uk-businesses-play-critical-role-
prevent-landfill-ticking-time-bomb-2551149/> [accessed
11 June 2019].
68. See interviews 2, 3, 4, 7, 12, 15, pp. 71-85.
69. Amit Katwala, ‘The spiralling environmental cost of
our lithium battery addiction’, Wired, 5 August 2018,
<https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-
environment-impact> [accessed 12 June 2019].
70. Datu Buyung Agusdinata et al., ‘Socio-environmental
impacts of lithium mineral extraction: towards a research
agenda’, Environm. Res. Lett. 13 (2018), 123001,
<https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aae9b1> [accessed
12 June 2019].
71. By reassessing widespread photographic image-
making, I mean considering whether it should be
promoted as a normalised art form, considering its
inherent unsustainability. Indeed, in a radical future of
genuinely sustainable art production, photography by
the millions would have to be abandoned or dramatically
reshaped, and divorced from consumerism.
72. Several interviewees are aware of the use of harmful
chemicals in processing, as well as the use of animal
byproducts as being ethically questionable for film,
yet are reluctant to change their behaviour. For those
reluctant to switch see interviews 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11,
12, 13, 14, and 15. For vegan/vegetarians, see 9, 12, and
13, pp. 70-85.
73. Relative to the whole of animal agriculture and other
extractive industries, as pointed out above.
74. 300 million cows divided by number of seconds in a
year.
75. Professor Faier argued that environmental
sustainability should trump nonhuman rights, as he
felt that the latter is too contentious an issue to gain a
consensus, Royal College of Art lecture, entitled How to
Deal with Material, 27 February 2019. However, from a
New Materialist perspective, nonhuman agency and rights
are given equal priority.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER FOUR
54
Figure 21: Zoe Strauss, Image from series on gelatin production, 2015.
CHAPTER FOUR
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
55
CHAPTER FOUR:
NONHUMAN WELFARE
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER THREE
56
Focusing on nonhuman welfare, as opposed
to the environmental implications of gelatin,
is precisely the argument that animal
rights organisation People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA) adopt in their
article, ‘Does film contain gelatin?’. PETA
states that ‘animals are not here for human
use’, describing how they have lobbied the
industry for a while to use a plant-based
alternative, and advocate for the use of
digital technologies as a substitute.1 An
online petition also existed in a similar vein,
and others (including one interviewee) have
written letters to film companies urging them
to abandon animal gelatin.2 3
However, the vast majority of interviewees
disagree with PETA; one believing that they
are ‘full of shit’.4 Others take a more nuanced
line, believing that whilst nonhumans are
not solely here for our use, it does not mean
we should not use them at all, despite the
unavoidable suffering and deprivation of life -
as detailed in Chapter Two.5 But the question
is, does aesthetic preference legitimise
nonhuman use and associated suffering? In
essence, are PETA ‘full of shit’, or do they
sound a difficult truth?
Indeed, the operating position of those
typically opposed to the exploitation of
nonhumans is that, if the scale of harms
inflicted outweighs the perceived necessity
to humans - then to cause said harms is
unjustified. This Utilitarian perspective - of
weighing the harms against the benefits -
was brought to the fore by the likes of Peter
Singer, and is often used to criticise the
meat industry due to the well-documented
abuses and unimaginable scale of slaughter
- as detailed in Chapter Two. Singer writes
that, ‘if a being suffers there can be no moral
justification for refusing to take that suffering
into consideration’.6 However, some are
justified if absolutely necessary to survival.7
New Materialists - whilst more radical in
their approach to nonhuman equality -
agree that some harms can be justified for
anthropocentric ends.8 9
But if photographers are to pay ‘rigorous
attention’ to the networks of film use,
then each shudder of grain comes with the
castration of a calf, or every golden-hued
light leak is made possible by a half-conscious
cow - bleeding out on the slaughterhouse
floor.10 In an ecologically-centred future,
the implications of each ‘trans-action’ are
unavoidably evident, and the inimitable
beauty of film cannot be divorced from the
well-documented misery of animal agriculture.
Although more distant, the blood drips from
our lenses as it does from our forks.
That said, many interviewees take this into
consideration. Emil Lombardo states, ‘I don’t
feel right about it cause I’m vegan...but I
really can’t help to use film’. In response to
PETA’s above assertion on gelatin in film,
Lombardo goes on to say ‘I know how terrible
it is but I really can’t use digital’.11 Similarly,
Sebastian Abugattas, says that ‘I am a
vegetarian, and the use of products that have
gelatin does create a conflict inside’, but that
they will continue to use film regardless.12
Indeed, the majority of interviewees disagree
with PETA’s statement, suggesting that they
see film as sufficient reason for causing harm
- rejecting digital as a feasible alternative.13
Furthermore, several clearly see meat as a
lesser justification for harm than shooting
film - even though the two are completely co-
dependent. This implies that with prevalent
analogue users, aesthetics take precedence
over diets when facilitating the suffering of
nonhuman species for anthropocentric aims.
However, philosophers Thomas Brian
Mooney and Samantha Minett disagree.
They direct their argument at ‘life-science’
AN AESTHETIC TO DIE FOR
CHAPTER THREE
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
57
art, which involves the direct manipulation
of nonhumans, or nonhuman tissue, to
create ‘objects not (primarily) for scientific
benefit, but aesthetic objects’.14 They point
to examples such as the Pig Wings project,
where bone marrow stem cells were extracted
from a pig in order to ‘mimic the different
structures of the bat, bird, and dinosaur
wings’.15 Or similarly, Eduardo Kac’s green
fluorescent rabbit, created by injecting cloned
jellyfish DNA into rabbit embryos (fig. 22).16
In both cases, Mooney and Minett point to
the harms caused by the artists, in either
extracting the stem cells from a living pig, or
interfering with the reproductive system of a
rabbit. They conclude that, ‘furthering artistic
goals...becomes relatively insignificant in
comparison to the intrinsic good represented
by the life and well being of an animal’.17
This is because, the value gained from such
artworks is ‘frivolous when calculated against
animal suffering’. Mimicking a New Materialist
view, they extend the sphere of potential
benefits gained to nonhumans, in that an
ideal society should look at ‘flourishing’
nonhumans alongside humans.18
Indeed, harming adult rabbits to birth a
fluorescent kitten appears frivolous in the
extreme, and it is difficult to perceive any
benefit to the rabbits.19 Compared to gelatin,
the harms incurred are far in excess of a
handful of rabbits. Indeed, 869 cows to fulfil
consumer stocks in 2019, rising to 1164 in
2025 is far more objectionable if viewed from
a position of equal autonomy.20 Considering
the cow’s developed emotional abilities, the
normalised branding, dehorning, slaughter
and more of one cow - multiplied by over a
thousand - is perhaps enough to see film’s
unique aesthetic as equally ‘frivolous’.
Furthermore, it does little to benefit the cows
involved; with film’s year-on-year growth
requiring more cows, an ever-increasing
number of throats are slit in feeding cameras
across the globe.
Figure 22: Eduardo Kac, Green fluorescent rabbit, 2000.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER FOUR
58
Figure 23: Alex Pacheco, One of the Silver Spring macaques, 1981.
CHAPTER FOUR
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
59
Researcher Nora Vaage contests Mooney and
Minetts’ position, arguing that this takes a
blanket view of nonhuman-utilising artworks,
in that some can benefit nonhumans and
humans alike. Indeed, Vaage argues that
works such as Pig Wings can in fact help,
sparking debate on the ‘ethical dimensions’
of exploiting nonhumans in scientific
research.21 Vaage believes that we must
adopt a ‘contextualist’ position, where we
investigate the meaning or purpose of each
work on a case-by-case basis, and see if it’s
benefit outweighs the suffering or death of
nonhumans - as opposed to outright rejection
of artistic goals as wholly ‘frivolous’.22
Curiously, PETA adopt a similar position,
referencing the notorious Silver Spring
Monkeys case. A founder of PETA - Alex
Pacheco - infiltrated the Institute for
Behavioural Research, a laboratory testing
on nonhumans in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Psychologist Edward Taub had seventeen
captive macaques, where he performed
surgery to sever their spinal nerves, in order
to cut of feeling to their limbs.23 Placing
them in a converted refrigerator, Taub would
restrain the monkeys and place pliers on
their skin and genitals, which he would then
shock repeatedly to encourage the use of
their disabled limbs (fig. 23). Taub would also
starve the macaques and then offer them
food, in the hope they would regain the use
of said limbs.24
Pacheco reported how the monkeys were
also kept in extremely unsanitary conditions,
with a police officer later confirming ‘it was
absolutely filthy, just incredibly dirty, like
nothing I’ve ever been in’. Such conditions
included cramped cages, piling faeces,
monkey corpses floating in formaldehyde,
and infected, untreated wounds from
experimentation.25 Pacheco documented
the proceedings using an analogue camera,
equipped with gelatin-based film. The
photographs were crucial to raising public
awareness on animal testing, and helped aid
the first ever conviction for animal cruelty, as
well as leading the 1985 U.S. Animal Welfare
Act Amendment - ensuring a minimum
standard for treatment to nonhumans in
scientific research.26
In this case, PETA believe it was right to use
film, despite its connections to intensive
animal agriculture. Indeed, a wider benefit
was arguably attained for nonhumans, in that
they gained further legal protections against
mistreatment, whilst significantly raising
public awareness. However, this case was
conducted in 1981 - more than two decades
before digital photography’s dominance.
Therefore, if viewed in the digital context
of today, could similar benefits be gained
without the use of film?
As most image-based exposés into nonhuman
exploitation and abuse today are shot using
digital cameras, thus it can be argued that
there is no need to use film in such cases.27
Film’s aesthetic contributes little to the
cause, therefore digital is a viable alternative
if seeking to generate works that advance
the cause for nonhuman welfare - without
contributing to the destructive practices of
intensive animal agriculture. Indeed, it is
difficult to imagine a scenario today where
an artist would be forced to use an analogue
camera for such purposes - considering
digital’s ubiquity.28
Nonhuman ethics philosophers Dan Hooley
and Nathan Nobis agree, arguing that
any product contributing to ‘serious and
unjustified harms’ that can be reasonably
‘avoided’ where there are credible alternatives
available, results in an obligation for
individuals to not ‘purchase or use’ that
product. To them, if the ‘serious harm of
death is essential to the practice’, then it
must be avoided.29 Evidently, analogue film
meets these to a bloody tee, and could be
comfortably rejected when seeking to reduce
nonhuman suffering through photographic
imagery. But are there any cases where use of
MACAQUES AND
BIOGLYPHS
Figure 23: Alex Pacheco, One of the Silver Spring macaques, 1981.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER FOUR
60
film is absolutely necessary, even in a digital
era?
Fortunately, one of the interviewees for this
dissertation may hold an example. Daro
Montag’s practice almost exclusively revolves
around our relationship to the nonhuman
world, previously leading the UK’s first MA
in Art and Environment, and the research
group RANE - focusing exclusively on arts in
relation to the environment.30 Montag used
photographic film to create what he termed
Bioglyphs, in response to the ‘absence of
visible life’ that he perceived when viewing
Walter de Maria’s sculpture New York Earth
Room, made from ‘250 cubic yards of earth’.31
Aware of the thousands of tiny organisms
that lived in the earth - but were invisible to
the audience - Montag took a sample and
placed it on the surface of some wettened
photographic film. The ‘micro-community’ of
organisms within the soil fed off the gelatin,
leaving a kaleidoscopic trace on the film (fig.
24).32 Montag then began to bury rolls of
35mm, as well as leaving decomposing fruits
on film’s surface, encouraging microorganisms
to create their own images. By allowing the
microorganisms to direct the creative process,
Montag’s work emulated the New Materialist
worldview by radically decentering the human.
Feeling that photography often objectifies
the nonhuman world, Bioglyphs were a way
for Montag to give them a creative voice,
and ‘represent nature from a less objectified
position’.33
This can be interpreted as beneficial to the
wider biotic community, in that it achieves
what New Materialists envision as a non-
anthropocentric artistic practice, where
nonhumans are seen as an equal collaborators
in the creation of works. As Montag puts it,
the images are ‘not of living, microscopic
organisms, but are actually created by them’.34
With the Bioglyphs, nonhumans are indeed
not a ‘means-to-an-end’, but valued creators.
Thus, the work thoroughly encapsulates this
ideal for aesthetic practice, and may help
other artists consider nonhuman matter on
an equal footing when working creatively.
Similarly, it helps enshrine the physical
presence and importance of preserving the
health of living organisms in soil. From the
contextualist position, this work would have
been impossible to create using digital
technology, hinging on the presence of
bovine gelatin for microorganisms to feed.
However, the work then contradicts itself -
in that Montag does not acknowledge the
‘serious harm of death’ present in film’s
gelatin. In attempting to de-objectify the
nonhuman world through Bioglyphs, Montag
conversely objectifies the unavoidable use
of cows in gelatin, in pursuit of artistic goals.
Indeed, in his PhD Thesis on Bioglyphs,
Montag discusses the source of gelatin only
once, as an ‘industrial product’ derived from
animals, failing to acknowledge the specific
species - nor the suffering and deprivation
of life required.35 Thus, Montag’s Bioglyphs
balance on a double-edged sword of artistic
necessity and frivolity - exemplifying the
difficulties in adopting the contextualist
position for film, due to its inherent violence.
Indeed, the contextualist position seems
difficult to apply in an Ecocene future for
artistic practice, as it relies on an impractical
balancing act unable to transcend the limits
of our current culture. Additionally, the
contextualist position weakens further when
we realise that the analogue film industry is
motivated by financial profit and continued
growth.36 The photographic industry refutes
plant-based alternatives (despite the wishes
of PETA and some interviewees) in part due to
cost-effectiveness, and gelatin producers have
equally stated that there is no demand for
the expensive sourcing of bones from organic
farms. Therefore, film will always involve
wide-scale harms in the foreseeable future, as
long as Capitalocene economics continue to
dominate society.37
Whilst contradictions as with Montag’s work
are difficult to avoid, it is not naive idealism
to suggest moving away from bovine gelatin
- considering the scale and severity of harms
CHAPTER FOUR
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
61
Figure 24: Daro Montag, This Earth Bioglyph, 2007.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER FOUR
62
inflicted, when treating cows as capital.
Although Montag ‘cannot imagine a life where
no animals get hurt by human activity’, we
must recognise that film use is an optional
contribution to an unrepentantly destructive
Capitalocene industry.38 Considering the
urgency of the ecological crisis, perpetuated
by the exploitative treatment of nonhumans -
an equal urgency is demanded with which we
transform artistic practice.
Although New Materialists accept that some
harms are unavoidable, it is difficult to assume
this includes analogue film. Treating cows as
objectified resource - instead of living beings
capable of abject suffering in the face of
systemic violence - does not ring the bells
of renaissance, but miserable regression.
Therefore, as analogue is currently impossible
without suffering, it cannot feasibly continue
in such a transformation - unless all other
options are exhausted, as with the Silver
Spring case.
However, as several interviewees mention,
digital-as-alternative inflicts harms on
nonhumans through the toxic extraction
involved in their making. Indeed, the impact
on wildlife is enormous, and impossible to
quantify at this stage.39 But much like in
Chapter Three, it can be purchased second-
hand, and does not demand definite harms
- as does film. Thus, if forced to choose
between the two - second-hand digital causes
less immediate harm to nonhumans, and the
vast majority of artistic meaning or purpose
can be conveyed without film. Therefore,
PETA are arguably not ‘full of shit’, but
make a relevant - yet somewhat reductive -
conclusion.
Ultimately, as with Chapter Three, we may
need to re-evaluate photographic image-
making in the Capitalocene, envisioning
a genuine renaissance beyond the limited
parameters of accepting suffering as a given
for artistic ends. If artistic practice is to lead
the charge in ecological transformation,
then refereeing the sparring match between
analogue and digital harms, or attempting
to navigate each individual work over the
troubled waters of contextualism are mere
distractions. Indeed, it is evident from the
interviews that even photographers who
commit to a plant-based diet on ethical
grounds are reluctant to give up photographic
gelatin. Bound to the exploitative hierarchy
of our profit-centric society, wide-scale
nonhuman suffering will always be an essential
cog in the photography industry’s machine -
demanding an unprecedented overhaul.
1. PETA, ‘Does film contain gelatin?’, People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals, <https://www.peta.org/
about-peta/faq/does-film-contain-gelatin/> [accessed 3
April 2019].
2. This petition is now dead, but evidence can be found
here: WHID, ‘Let Kodak know that you would buy gelatin-
free film!’, Photography Forums, 16 November 2006,
<https://www.photography-forums.com/threads/let-
kodak-know-that-you-would-buy-gelatin-free-film.78687/>
[accessed 3 April 2019].
3. See interview 13, p. 83.
4. See interview 14, p. 84.
5. Daro Montag states: ‘Whilst I agree with the sentiment
that animals are not here for our use - it does not follow
that we should not use them. Indeed I cannot imagine
a life where no animals get hurt by human activity.’ See
interview 2, p. 71.
6. Peter Singer, Practical Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1993), p. 57.
7. Peter Singer, p. 62.
8. Jane Bennet acknowledges that ‘perfect equality’
between species is impossible, in: Vibrant Matter:
A political ecology of things (North Carolina: Duke
University Press, 2009), p. 104.
CHAPTER FOUR:
ENDNOTES
CHAPTER FOUR
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
63
9. Importantly, they see factory farming as not one
of these ends. See: Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), p. 8.
10. Warning: Images of graphic violence to nonhumans.
For video documentation of such claims, view: Aussie
Farms, Dominion, online documentary on animal
agriculture, YouTube, 9 October 2018, <https://www.
youtube.com/watch?v=LQRAfJyEsko> [accessed 15 June
2019]. For cattle abuses, view from around 50 minutes
onwards.
11. See interview 13, p. 83.
12. See interview 12, p. 82.
13. Out of fifteen interviews, only three resolutely agree
with PETAs suggestion to switch to digital to reduce harm
to nonhumans. See interviews 1, 3, and 6 - pp. 70-75.
14. Thomas Brian Mooney and Samantha Minett, ‘If
pigs could fly, should they? A sketch of utilitarian and
natural law arguments against life-science art’, Ethical
Perspectives: Journal of the European Ethics Network 13
(4) (2006), 621-645, p. 622.
15. Thomas Brian Mooney and Samantha Minett, p. 626.
16. Thomas Brian Mooney and Samantha Minett, p. 627.
17. Thomas Brian Mooney and Samantha Minett, p. 639.
18. Thomas Brian Mooney and Samantha Minett, p. 632.
19. Kitten is the term for a baby rabbit.
20. As calculated in Chapter Three, endnote 42.
21. Nora Vaage, ‘What Ethics for Bioart?’, Nanoethics 10
(1) (2016), 87-104 (p. 102).
22. Nora Vaage, p. 89.
23. Bridget Klabuer, ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The
Federal Courts and the Silver Spring Monkeys’, U.
Colorado Law Review 63 (1992), 501-520.
24. PETA, Silver Spring Monkeys, online documentary
on the case, YouTube, 23 March 2016, <https://www.
youtube.com/watch?v=8dM8ZItgpsk> [accessed 16 June
2019].
25. Quote and description of conditions in: Peter
Carlson, ‘The Strange Case of the Silver Spring
Monkeys’, The Washington Post, 24 February 1991,
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/
magazine/1991/02/24/the-great-silver-spring-monkey-
debate/25d3cc06-49ab-4a3c-afd9-d9eb35a862c3/?utm_
term=.c382db5ab6ac> [accessed 16 June 2019].
26. PETA, ‘The Silver Spring Monkeys: The Case That
Launched PETA’, PETA, n.d., <https://www.peta.org/
issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/silver-spring-
monkeys/> [accessed 16 June 2019].
27. Most undercover footage is filmed on hidden digital
cameras, as seen in the likes of famed documentary
Earthlings, dir. Shaun Monson (Nation Earth, 2005).
28. That said, digital camera sales are significantly
declining due to smartphones. See: Jack Alexander,
‘Camera Shipments Down 35 Percent From Previous Year,
250,000 Less Sales’, Fstoppers, 11 April 2019, <https://
fstoppers.com/gear/camera-shipments-down-35-percent-
previous-year-250000-less-sales-356607> [accessed 16
June 2019]. Regardless, they have a similar negative
environmental impact.
29. Quotes and full criteria in Dan Hooley and Nathan
Nobis, ‘A Moral Argument for Veganism’, in Philosophy
Comes to Dinner, ed. by Andrew Chignell et al.
(Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2015) pp. 92-108.
Extended version of essay used for this dissertation found
at: <https://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.
cgi?article=1005&context=acwp_aafhh> p. 16 of PDF
[accessed 16 June 2019].
30. Falmouth University, ‘Dr Daro Montag’, Falmouth
University Staff Profiles, n.d., <https://www.falmouth.
ac.uk/staff/dr-daro-montag> [accessed 17 June 2019].
31. Daro Montag, ‘Thinking soil’, Interalia Magazine,
April 2017, <https://www.interaliamag.org/articles/daro-
montag/> [accessed 17 June 2019].
32. Montag, Thinking Soil.
33. Details found in his PhD thesis on the subject: Daro
Montag, Bioglyphs: Generating images in collaboration
with nature’s events (unpublished two-part doctoral
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CHAPTER FOUR
64
thesis, University of Hertfordshire, 2000). Quote taken
from part one, p. 52.
34. Montag, Bioglyphs Thesis (part one), p. 79.
35. Montag, Bioglyphs Thesis (part two), p. 2.
36. As seen in Olivier Laurent, ‘This Is Why Film
Photography Is Making a Comeback’, Time Magazine,
26 January 2017, <http://time.com/4649188/film-
photography-industry-comeback/> [accessed 3 April
2019].
37. The rejection of plant-based gelatin is detailed in
Chapter Two, and the reluctance of companies to switch
due to efficiency and affordability.
38. See interview 2, p. 71.
39. Datu Buyung Agusdinata et al., ‘Socio-environmental
impacts of lithium mineral extraction: towards a research
agenda’, Environm. Res. Lett. 13 (2018), 123001,
<https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aae9b1> [accessed
12 June 2019].
CHAPTER FOUR
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
65
Figure 25: Uberprutser, New born calf of a Friesian red and white cow, 2013.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
67
CONCLUSION
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
68
Ultimately, the majority of interviewees
express an appetite for reform - or at the
very least, an uncomfortable disquiet with
the nature of gelatin. Following the above
investigation, is reform possible, or must we
consign analogue film to the photographic
history books?
It is undeniable that we are living through
turbulent, difficult times. The film
‘renaissance’ so celebrated by the industry
burns in contrast to the societal renaissance
required to deliver us from the unprecedented
extinction threatening all life on Earth. When
the shutter is clicked open, the world that
sears onto the negative’s gelatinous surface is
one beset by biospheric breakdown. As Moore
and Boehnert argue, industrial society can
only overcome this challenge if we abandon
our bulldozer Capitalocene logic, pouring
wealth into the mouths of a privileged few as
the nonhuman world is treated as exploitable
chattel. Transforming around ecological
principles of multispecies equality and
environmental sustainability is the only viable
ship in sailing us from brutal collapse.
The arts are invaluable in such a
transformation, allowing us to imagine and
attempt alternatives of Ecocene-type futures,
as stressed by the likes of Demos, Davis and
Turpin. However, much of contemporary art
is equally bound by Capitalocene principles
- especially when considering artistic form.
Therefore, this investigation into gelatin in
analogue film acts as an entangled microcosm
to explore the wider macrocosm of artistic
production in the Capitalocene.
Following the revolutionary logic of Braidotti’s
New Materialism, artistic materials are seen
as equal collaborators in an enmeshed
multispecies network. The inseparable links
to intensive animal agriculture traced through
gelatin’s history and present use reveal
that analogue film is responsible for levels
of unimaginable harms and environmental
toxicity. From releasing inordinate amounts
of methane, or wasting massive amounts of
water, to the routine violence required in
making film possible - all point to an industry
unable to fit within an ecological vision for the
arts.
Whilst these impacts pale in comparison
to animal agriculture as a whole, we must
view each grain-dipped negative as a trans-
action, and acknowledge the consequences
of seemingly mundane practices if we are
to depart from the destructive traditions of
the Capitalocene. Indeed, film’s renaissance
is not a genuine renaissance; the use of
gelatin conforms to Capitalocene traditions
of environmental destruction, and a blatant
disregard for nonhuman autonomy in the
pursuit of profit.
This focus on profitability has motivated
the many adaptations and technological
revolutions allowing for widespread use of
gelatin in film, treating cows as objectified
byproduct and ecosystems as dumping
grounds to power each click of the camera.
Gelatin or not, the central defect is treating
all as beneath expansionary profit-seeking -
even in the arts. Attempting to contextualise
gelatin in film, or justify it in comparison to
the overall meat industry, is therefore useless,
and serves only to perpetuate the current
harms integral to its existence. However,
the interviewees are correct in that digital
does not act as sustainable and harmless
alternative, trapped by similar ecological
limitations as film.
Yet their reluctance to trade treasured
analogue cameras for digital suggests the
need for a renaissance of an ecological
THE ECOLOGICAL
RENAISSANCE
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
69
- not analogue - kind. In breaking the
mould of resigned acceptance, where some
interviewees can only ‘wish this was different’,
we must think beyond our current limits.1
Whilst this dissertation can only conclude that
we leave film behind, it is clear that this would
only be a small part of a greater photographic
overhaul.
Therefore, this dissertation should act as a
framework to ecologically-evaluate artistic
form, whilst also laying the groundwork for
further research into how an actual ecological
future for photography may take shape.
Following research should envision a radical
artistic future - potentially departing from
photography entirely - or striving to imagine
how photography may avoid egregious
environmental and nonhuman harms. Artistic
endeavor has the ability to shape society
where other institutions cannot, and so to
raise an idealistic torch of sustainability
and ecology would not be a hindrance, but
another string to its culturally-momentous
bow.
1. See interview 13, p. 83.
CONCLUSION:
ENDNOTES
Figure 26: Ryan McDonald, Cows on film, 2011.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
70
INTERVIEW 1
1. Name
Amy
2. Age
18-24 years old
3. Occupation
Self-employed mixed media artist
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Past - I used it a lot to complete various
university projects.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Analogue film gives a certain look/feel that is
considered trendy and retro.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Yes. When I self-published my book, I donated
towards planting trees to try and minimise my
carbon footprint.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes. Although I only learnt about this about a
year ago.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
Yes. I no longer use the medium.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
Yes. Using animal products purely for creative
practices is not sustainable.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
APPENDIX: INTERVIEWS
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
71
INTERVIEW 2
1. Name
Daro Montag
2. Age
55 or older
3. Occupation
Artist / Lecturer
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes. My work (started when I was a student
at the RCA) involved the biological
decomposition of coloured gelatin
photographic films. At that time most people
were still working with analogue technologies,
but rather than a technological debate I was
interested in the way living matter could
be encouraged to make it’s own mark. This
process became known as ‘Bioglyphs’.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
The fact that it provides an ‘original’. The fact
that it has physicality in the world. The fact
that it exists as something that be held and
seen when the power is down.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Yes, it is fundamental. Both my own work,
and my teaching over the past 30 years, have
been informed by ideas off ecology and our
un-sustainability.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
Certainly - in my creative practice of bioglyphs
I tended to use film that was out of date and
no longer of any use for photography.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I think it’s far more complex than that. Whilst
I agree with the sentiment that animals are
not here for our use - it does not follow that
we should not use them. Indeed I cannot
imagine a life where no animals get hurt by
human activity. Digital technology is highly
damaging to the environment and other
species. Think of the viable habitats destroyed
to extract the rare elements required by the
digital industry as well as the vast amounts of
fossil fuels required to maintain this system,
etc..
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
72
INTERVIEW 3
1. Name
Imran Perretta
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Artist and Educator
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
I am a digital native when it comes to shooting
moving image. I do, however, shoot analogue
stills. This side of my practice is in its early
stages and is not integral just yet.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
It is a more material engagement with the
moving image, and therefore has a sculptural
and poetic value. On a technical level,
analogue film has a dynamic range and colour
fidelity that is only approached by expensive
digital cinema cameras that are out of the
reach of most experimental makers.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
I gave up on my sculptural practice as I didn’t
want to put anymore objects into the world,
partly for personal and political convictions
and partly for ecological reasons. however,
I am aware that a digital practice still has
a considerable carbon footprint and I am
seeking to minimise this in the future.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
No. I have always paid more attention to the
ecological impact of film processing and toxic
waste. I will definitely consider this issue more
closely now.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I already have a 90% digital practice and I
would certainly consider moving to 100%
digital.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
73
INTERVIEW 4
1. Name
Matilde Araoz Ellis
2. Age
18-24 years old
3. Occupation
Teaching
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes, it’s the only technique I like to use in
my practice, I enjoy how it slows down the
process
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
The quality of colours is much more beautiful.
I like the air of mystery it holds, the patience
you need.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Well, analogue cameras are in some ways
better for the environment, you don’t need to
keep updating and buying new ones, they are
longer lasting than digital
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes, unfortunately but it’s very difficult to
come across vegan substitutes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
No, it does upset me but I feel passionately
that I prefer to use analogue and digital
has other environmental drawbacks which
probably have a larger impact. If I could find
another option that was affordable I’d use it.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
The amount of animal product used in
comparison to other products that people use
is so small by comparison and shooting on
film is so important to me.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
74
INTERVIEW 5
1. Name
-
2. Age
18-24 years old
3. Occupation
Artist residency
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes. It is my prime medium of photography.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Experimentation. I like the textural
unpredictability that imprints a photo rather
than something that directly mirrors it. It feels
more personal as no negs are ever really the
same.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
No, but see that it is not a particularly
sustainable practice.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes but hadn’t thought about it.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
Yes, wondering if there are any alternatives
for gelatin printing, maybe use alternative
processing. Less chemicals
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
Not at this moment in time but would
consider using different processes. Analogue
is an excting part of my practice but maybe
I would experiment more using different
technologies and devices than a digital
camera.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
75
INTERVIEW 6
1. Name
Tyrone Lebon
2. Age
35-44 years old
3. Occupation
Photography + Film
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes, both the process and the result are
important to me and my practice.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
The look and feel of the images and the way it
shapes the process.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Yes, not so much to do with links with
animal by products, more in regards to
considering how analogue processes are more
environmentally damaging than alternatives.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
No.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
No, not directly. but as part of considering the
overall environmental impact.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
Yes, but only if an alternative was available
that was similar enough. and digital is not.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
76
INTERVIEW 7
1. Name
Verene
2. Age
45-54 years old
3. Occupation
Photographic retail / painter
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Better results.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Yes.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
I have actually been looking at alternative
process because of this .
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
Gtelatin is not the only issue. in painting
there is rabbit skin glue, paintbrushes etc.
Paper is sized with animal products, etc... It
is an issue which plenty of people struggle
with. Regardless, PETA annoys me with their
emphasis on animal rights over human right,
happy as they are to to advocate digital use
(which has major implication with human
rights and ecology in the production of chips).
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
77
INTERVIEW 8
1. Name
-
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Sales
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes - it is the majority (80%) of my
photography.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
The tangible link to the physical process
and result; the enforced slow speed and
mindfulness vs. digital.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
No - I know it’s not going to be ecologically
perfect (the majority of analogue photography
is chemicals and plastic!) and so it’s always
going to be difficult to try and improve.
Obviously I recycle where possible (e.g.
plastic film canisters) but that’s no different
to my approach to the rest of my household
waste.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
No.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
No - I consume gelatin and other animal
products in all other areas of my life, so this
doesn’t change anything for me re: analogue
film.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
No - I eat meat etc and so if I was going to
minimise my impact on animal life there are
easier places to start than with removing
myself from analogue photography.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
78
INTERVIEW 9
1. Name
Amy D-M
2. Age
18-24 years old
3. Occupation
Filmmaking, editing
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes - it’s important in an intuitive decision-
making process, handling the film directly,
making the most of all the unavoidable
errors when cutting it together. Much more
grounding...
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
My work ‘in general’ looks at nostalgia
in magical realism, slippages of memory,
ephemera etc, so using film seems like the
most appropriate way to document an archive
from the past.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Within my practice I’m not sure, but generally
speaking yes. Growing veg in the allotment
and the rest...
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
No I did not know that.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
Once I sit with it - perhaps. I have shifted
from using clear casting polyester resin to
epoxy (bio) resin, after becoming aware of the
alternative. However, unlike the unsustainable
rate at which we consume meat, film is still (in
my unresearched eyes) used by a very small
percentage of the video industry population,
I feel less guilty than I thought perhaps I
would as I do not and have never eaten meat.
I would rather on a special occassion make
a film i will consider each frame and edit in
camera - using byproducts of meat produce,
than eat a turkey at christmas.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
For the majority of work, there are other
non 4k alternatives to analogue, but frankly
enough people are using film in fashion,
branding, music videos - I think it is important
to still use the medium in a devisive, video art
realm.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
79
INTERVIEW 10
1. Name
Jim Lowe
2. Age
55 or older
3. Occupation
Architectural photographer
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes! For many years I have sold B&W fine art
landscape pictures as part of my business. I
still use large format 5”x4” FP4 film using a
Sinar plate camera.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Mainly because for most of my 44 year career
as a professional photographer and the last 11
years as an University lecturer I have always
printed my own B&W work. Although latterly I
have tended to scan the 5”x4” negatives and
made digital prints off the resulting file. In the
early days most clients wanted a set of B&W
prints for press release, especially when I was
shooting advertising/commercial assignments.
Even when I used a digital camera for the
majority of my professional I still carried the
Sinar camera with me and occasionally used it
to capture some images.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
When I was using analogue materials for
my professional assignments there weren’t
any alternatives, then digital became the
method of capturing images and like the vast
majority of my colleagues I essentially ditched
analogue for digital as film, especially 5”x4”
transparencies became too expensive to use.
As I have already I still occasionally expose
FP4 film for my fine art B&W work but even
that is tailing off.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Of course! I learnt all about the basics of
professional photography, which included
an in-depth knowledge of all photographic
materials.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
Not really, as I have already said 40 years
there wasn’t any alternatives. Gelatin is also
used is sweets, jellies etc. Another prime
reason for using analogue materials is its
archival properties. It is still possible to
print off 10”x8” glass negatives of pictures
taken 150 years ago, yet no one is sure how
of longevity properties of digital. Already
CDs and DVDs which were used to store
early digital files are breaking down and it
is becoming difficult to open up images on
early files. How long will hard drives and
memory cards last, as apparently it has been
suggested that every photographer which
large digital files should re-save all their
images to new storage digital units every 5
to 8 years, otherwise there is no guarantees
from manufacturers that their files will still be
usable in the long term future.
[cont.]
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
80
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
The vast majority of photographers both
professional and amateur now capture their
images digitally, as I have mention mainly
owing to the excessive cost of analogue
material and the almost impossible task of
trying to find an outlet that sells it. Analogue
is mostly used by fine artists.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
81
INTERVIEW 11
1. Name
-
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Student
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
I use experimental hand printing methods in
the dark room for which I use film negatives.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Aesthetic reasons/process integral to
the history of photography and therefore
important in many photographers practices
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
I don’t because I just think about the
properties of materials first and foremost. I
don’t waste things so I feel that what I do use
is going to good use.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
No because I am not a vegan/vegetarian so I
consume animal products and am not willing
to stop making film photographs.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I use digital photography as well but when I
require negatives I make negatives. I would
not consider stopping using film because
PETA says so.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
82
INTERVIEW 12
1. Name
Sebastian Abugattas
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Photographer
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes, film is really important to my practice. I
wouldn’t be able to create the things I do if I
used a digital camera.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
The way you photographed is conditioned by
the machine you use. when you are starting
is better to use a camera that forces you to
slow down. This is a bit blurred in 35mm but
in large format/medium format this becomes
really present.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
Yes. I only use chemicals that are “friendly” (if
that’s possible) to the environment. I don’t use
colour film. Only black and white.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
I am a vegetarian and the use of products that
have gelatin does create a conflict inside that
I am constantly struggling.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I have considered this before, but the quality
of digital doesn’t yet reach the one of the
analogue process. I photograph and enlarge
as little as I can. And in my commercial work
I only use a digital camera. But to create
a digital camera it also involves a very
contaminating process, so nothing is really
safe for the environment yet.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
83
INTERVIEW 13
1. Name
Emil Lombardo
2. Age
35-44 years old
3. Occupation
IT, Art, Gastronomy (To clarify, I’m a software
developer, an artist and I’m also the owner of
a raw vegan restaurant in Paris).
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
I use mainly film for my practice. 35mm and
medium format too. But I dont feel right about
it cause I’m vegan and I apply it everywhere I
can, food, clothes, cleaning products, and so
on... but I really can’t help to use film.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
To me it is about the process. I like to be
forced to slow down, also the surprise when
developing. And of course the different
atmosphere that I can’t get with digital. Plus
I hate Lightroom and photoshop I dont like
post editing.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
It is not part of my practice but it is part of
my life and do have ethical problems with
me using film. But when I can I use vegan
options. Like a part of my practice is printing
cyanotypes and I print on glass and I use
agar-agar for coating the glass.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes I’m aware.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
I wish this was different. I’ve sent messages
to Kodak asking them to replace gelatine for
agar agar, I really wish this could change. I
even thought about making my own film and
I researched about it but I’m not even sure
it is that possible? I would still love to do it
though.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I understand the view animal activists have.
However with the growth and ever change in
technology people use more natural resources
than ever before. Gelatine alternatives
could be a possibility, however there is not
a demand for it at the moment (there should
be).
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
84
INTERVIEW 14
1. Name
-
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Picture Framing
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes, I prefer taking pictures with home made
camera obscuras. I find that I can only make
the kind of imagery I’m interested in using
analogue techniques.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
For one, I think there are lots of makers that
wish to preserve film and I think that has to
do with nostalgia as well as desire to preserve
the qualities that analogue processes give to
photigraphic/video work. Thinking in terms
of music the similarities could be drawn with
the comeback of vinyl records. For me analog
in music and in video/still photography have
very similar values. That is, analogue seems
to record the world of sound and imagery for
what it is - physical impressions. For me it’s
physical (as in physics) vs. Digital.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
I do consider it and therefor feel pretty shit
when developing film. On the other hand, if I
were to drop using analogue I would probably
make very little in my practice. Most of the
time I use film to take pictures that I then
print digitally.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
Yes.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
It doesn’t. The way the food industry works
now, I think it’s the best to use the killed
animal to the very last bit. It is worse to
waste unwanted parts. It’s the same gelatin
that goes into lots of other products that we
consume daily.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I think that sometime PETA are full of shit. I’m
much more worried about the use of harmful
chemicals in the darkroom than using silver
gelatin. The thinking seems wrong to me. We
should stop farming animals the way we do.
As long as that goes on I really don’t mind
that we use dead animal cartilage to make
thinks out of. Honestly, the best thing for the
planet and the animals around us would be if
we did fuck all. (excuse my language, please).
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
CONCLUSION
THE ECOLOGY OF GRAIN
85
INTERVIEW 15
1. Name
-
2. Age
25-34 years old
3. Occupation
Photographer/bookbinder
4. Would you consider the use of analogue
film as integral to your past or present artistic
practice, and if so, how?
Yes, I can see myself using it for photographic
projects and experimental work.
5. What do you feel is the main motivation
for analogue film use within photography/
filmmaking, considering alternatives are
available?
Even though digital photography is an
alternative. The limitation of film photography
has forced me to develop my photography
even further. Making me think even more
about my next image, and appreciate my
photography more. Rather than shoot 10
frames a second, I would shoot one every
couple of minutes. Aside from preferring to
keep a physical record of the images I take
and not a digital back up that could easily be
deleted.
6. Do you consider ecology and sustainability
in any way, with regards to your practice? If so
- how? Or if not, why not?
I try to use as much recycled materials when
making books, and creating portfolios.
7. Are you aware that an essential ingredient
of analogue film is gelatin? (Gelatin is a
protein byproduct of animal agriculture
derived from the waste parts of predominantly
pigs and cows).
I am, as it is used in currency.
8. Does this fact influence your use of the
medium at all? If so - how? If not - why? *
It doesn’t, as I also try to reduce my impact
through dietary decisions.
9. Animal rights activists PETA suggest
that artists should consider using digital
technology as an alternative to gelatine-based
analogue products, as they “believe that
animals are not here for human use”. Would
you consider such a move? Please explain why
or why not.
I can’t... I know how terrible it is but I really
can’t use digital. I guess this is my line, I’m
vegan with everything else and I consider
myself quite an activist and have been
promoting veganism for 10 years (before that
was vegetarian since 1996) but I tried digital
and I hate it. I use it occasionally for some
shootings but I still prefer film.
10. Do you consent for your answers to be
used for research purposes at the Royal
College of Art?
Yes.
EDWARD MAUGHAN-CARR
CONCLUSION
86
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An Ecological Analysis of Gelatin in Photographic Film
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