The Virtual Pasture
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
spring 2009 – autumn 2011
Good farmers rotate crops, and so, in 2009, I converted the Beanfield into pasture. Sheep and cows once grazed the OSU campus grounds. Horses pulled delivery wagons to classrooms, auditoriums, and dormitories. Now animals--except pigeons, squirrels, rats, cats, raccoons and dogs--are mostly absent here. The Virtual Pasture reanimated the central campus landscape with a flock of Shetland sheep raised off-site, but presented through images streamed live to an outdoor video monitor at the Wexner Center for the Arts. The project entertains such questions as, Where do we encounter farm animals now? And, How might we reestablish contact with those living creatures on whom we depend, but have made invisible in our daily life?
Why look at animals?
[Because] the eyes of an animal when they consider a man are attentive and wary. He does not reserve a special look for a man. But by no other species except man will the animal's look be recognized as familiar. The animal scrutinizes him across the narrow abyss of non-comprehension. This is why man can surprise the animal. Yet the animal—even if domesticated—can also surprise the man.
John Berger, About Looking
Related articles and writings
Local Practice: An Agri/Cultural Consideration, Summer 2010 edible Columbus
"What I Forgot to Say (unpublished notes following a lecture)," Michael Mercil, October 2011.