Coop, 2021

Coop is a speculative fiction about a community of humans co-existing with chickens. Each species relies on the other’s respectful interaction, salvation, and biological offerings to survive. How might we resign the exceptionalism of being human and instead adopt forms of mutualism with another species?

The audio/visual thought experiment suggests material-driven implications in this relationship: human remains as building materials, ground eggshells as commemorative dishware, communal furniture as feeding grounds. Through engaging everyday objects and practices, we begin to imagine a flattening of hierarchies and alternate forms of cohabitating. The scenes are neither utopic nor dystopic. Instead, they point us to practical realities that allow us to suspend our current belief systems and contemplate our proximity to nonhuman worlds.

How do we as humans decenter ourselves within interspecies relationships? The demand we place on industrialized livestock and poultry farming drives us further away from this understanding. Our advanced technologies, economies, social systems, and learned relationships to food deem us as unique species and animals as subordinate.

If we abandon human-centric ideas and forge models of mutualism, who do we become in the process? What do we offer? What do they gain? How far are we willing to go to dismantle our ontologies?

Special thanks to Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, Tara McDowell & Roland Wang (and their chickens).

Wesley Chau is a designer and educator based in New York. He works across a range of industrial design, digital media, and creative research practices. Wesley holds an MFA Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design and BFA Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design. Available for freelance and collaborative work. CV / Email