This project started as a data visualization and expanded into a fictional company. In this project studio, led by Dr. Carl DiSalvo, we studied food systems and mapping. For the final project, I knew I wanted to create a critical design and I became quite interested in the “underbelly” of our food system: pet food. What interested me was the uncomfortable tension between pet food being rather disgusting and very environmentally friendly. Rendering (cooking down the parts of animals that Americans don’t want to eat) is a form of recycling, albeit a rather grisly example. You see, a good deal of the rendered product is used to feed livestock…well, that’s how cycles work.
I decided to take this system to its logical conclusion: why can’t humans be rendered? After all, our system of burial and cremation is environmentally unsound and incredibly wasteful. We could feed a lot of pets and even create products like biofuels with the rendered protein from humans.
I challenged myself to make this crazy idea palatable to a wide audience. Taking inspiration from the (unintentionally?) hilarious websites of rendering companies, I decided to create a fictional corporate entity, HumanePro. This company communicates primarily in corporate bullshit speak and glow-y pictures of baby chicks and sunny fields. I animated a visual diagram of how such a system would work using absurdly friendly and soft iconography. Lastly, in order to “sell” the concept, I turned to that bastion of vague thought leadership: TED Talks. For my final class presentation, I gave a talk at “TEDxCorporate” in which I called upon the audience to “disrupt Big Death.” I recorded the narration with the slides to create the video on this page.
Based on the positive response to the presentation, I decided to register the HumanePro domain (not taken!) and release the site into the world without explanation.