Dysfunction & Deceit

Poster | 2011
Scanned paper

Dysfunction represents the breakdown of a symbiotic relationship by the cultivation of a single crop. The extended lines of the same typeface, set in uppercase, demonstrate the homogenous practice in modern agriculture. The layers of letters create an impractical relationship between the message and the reader, which is compounded by fragmented words that leave behind broken bits of information. When standing farther away from the image, the forms resemble rows in a field that have represented America’s fertile heartland when in actuality they are the cause of a vast dead zone extending from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.

Deceit misrepresents the essay by modifying it. The words were cut apart, most were removed, and the rest were rearranged like the DNA of a genetically modified organism. It simulates compliance with basic type rules by following a grid system and varying the type case, but in reality, the message is deceptive. It leaves the reader questioning the forthrightness of the message as it ends with a declaration to “celebrate the genetic revolution.” Much like the rhetoric used by the same corporate interests (Monsanto, Novartis, DuPont) that championed the first wave of chemically-based agriculture. In the end, the genetic revolution (biotechnology) is an unpredictable extension of corporate agriculture.

The words are from Modern Agriculture Ecological Impacts and the Possibilities for Truly Sustainable Farming by Miguel Altieri Ph.D., UC Berkeley.