Humans and Animals

19th century painting


20th century photo of Chicago’s meat industry…

          Viewed side by side, the world view imparted by these images contrast with each other in what I think is a very interesting manner.  Both images depict human/s and animals.  In the 19thcentury landscape, a lone girl relaxes while six cows graze and drink water behind her.  She seems relaxed and at ease with her natural setting.  The colors are soft and mesh easily with each other.  In fact, the girl’s skirt is, in some areas, the same color as the cow in back of her (the small one immediately above her head) and many other colors used on the girl’s clothing can be found elsewhere in the natural scene.  While the human is at the forefront of the painting, she is in synchrony with the world by which she is surrounded.  Even the stick she holds, which, to a certain extent, is a technology that allows her to control the animals, is made of natural elements.

          The early 20thcentury photograph of Chicago’s meat industry captures a very different scene.  The picture is a visible manifestation of man conquering nature instead of living in tandem with it.  In the 19th century painting animals outnumber the solitary girl while in the latter men line up (or group together) in the act of butchering animals with long, sharp knifes.  Unlike the open space of the 19thcentury painting, this picture is taken in enclosed man-made space and therefore the lighting is dreary in contrast with the natural lighting of the painting.  Moreover, while the girl in the painting wields a power tool which could have been naturally available amidst her setting, these men hold massive knifes, a vicious man made technology, to cut the meat.  One man even holds the knife over his head which could be scene as an indication that the knife actually controls his life as well as that of the animals he cuts.  Thus, it appears that the paradigm of nature, humans, and technology drastically shifts from the 19th century to the early 20th century.

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2 Responses to “Humans and Animals”

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