The Life of One Pig

Part of a trilogy work, One Pig was released on September 2011 and is an album based on the sounds produced by the existence of one anonymous pig. “From his birth to the plate”(1) The album is accompanied by a reflection from the artist, Matthew Herbert, where he explains what was the purpose and the processes and thoughts that went through it. Herbert observes: “For most people, with less extreme views, the careful preservation of the memory of one otherwise anonymous pig through using every part of a body that would normally have been thrown in landfill and forgotten, is an act of respect. I'm not here to simply debate the ethics of eating meat or wearing leather, particularly as we need to see this pig as more than just meat. Wouldn't it be more inclusive, less aggressive to state that as a society we should eat be eating much less meat, and we should be treating the meat we do eat with much greater respect? At least we could move beyond this point in our discussion and start to talk about the relationship between music and activism, between art and protest, between noise and silence.”

He records sound of the pigs death and laments he is not allowed to record the images as well. Later, with the functional materialization of the pig material remnants he produces for the arts. In his perspective, it allows for the production of moments, of acoustic sensations that brings new aspects of how we can imagine existence behind the walls of a slaughterhouse. The morbidity that occurs afterwards in the production of the instruments makes both visible and invisible the way how we have come to relate and think of non human animals.

While Herbert would like to think that his work has brings a different way how to see what we otherwise simply eat, the line of dinner guests seem to prove otherwise. The work process has an schizophrenic dimension. The life of this pig that is now brought into a plate is meant to acquire the level of sacred act, one that should be revered, and acknowledged, yet this acknowledgement only happens if we are witnesses that are conscious of every single step it involves. His assumption is also limited since it omits the structural machinery that goes into transforming the lives of non human animals into products. The actual repercussion would imply a type of relationality that would turn every single consumer into a small scale slaughterer.
The main focus of the album would seem to be the abstract approach in itself to the nature of sounds. The sequences are divided in time units, specifically months. The life of this non human animal as having a purposeful meaning of its own is never into question. The utilization of the materiality of the body left behind is used to its fullest, with the blood serving to create an “innovative” musical instrument and the skin going to be part of the drums that then are used in the percussion segments. Furthermore, the fact that its body is used not only in a basic culinary form, as to be ingested but that is used within higher artistic realms allows for the justification of the use itself. 

(1) A carnist perspective where when depicting “the life of one pig” the trajectory that has been chose is the one that involves capitalist exploitation as a good.