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Changing the World Through Art and Stats: 2 Blogs You Need to Read

By Jasmin Singer — June 06, 2012

There are 2 new (to me) blogs to come across my radar that I can’t get enough of. Each of them provides a unique look into animal advocacy, one from an arts standpoint, and the other from that of a statistician’s eye.

First, we have Speciesism in Art, in which Peter Walsh delves into the ethical implications of using animals in art. In each entry, Walsh thoroughly and accessibly explores a different example of a piece of “art” that relies on exploiting animals (living or dead), such as the now famous public vote determining the fate of a sheep who would be subjected to death by guillotine (yes, for “art”), and the UK’s Damien Hirst exhibition involving tens of thousands of dead butterflies. Walsh, whose website includes his MA dissertation on the same subject, uses Speciesism in Art to examine not only famous art, but also art that he creates.

The role of animals in art is one that we have discussed both on our podcast (such as on Episode 113, where a review of the Hollywood film, Big Miracle, launched us into a discussion about animals in film), and on our blog (such as with our piece, “Animal Stories in Film: Inherently Exploitative? Potentially Eye-Opening?“). Speciesism in Art takes a critical, discerning look at issues that too many art critics and appreciators glide over, including whether it is ever okay to hurt another being for the sake of pleasure or profit. I, for one, just subscribed.

The next blog that is rocking my world is Counting Animals: a place for people who love animals and numbers. Admittedly, I am remarkably terrible at anything having to do with numbers. Despite my arithmetic handicap, I am nonetheless intrigued to no avail with Counting Animals, and I wholly recognize the value (value! ha!) of quantifying whatever we can surrounding issues of animal exploitation. We need the cold hard facts.

The tag line to Counting Animals is “nerdism meets animal rights here!” The website explains:

It is a blog that aims to collect, generate, analyze, organize, present and interpret quantitative information related to the animal advocacy movement. Occasionally, it will employ tools and insights from computer science and mathematics to discover facts pertinent to the animal advocacy movement. From time to time, it may also make number-related nerdy observations of no use to anybody.

Published by “Harish,” recent posts include a visual graphic detailing the monetary differences between what is used to promote meat, and what is used to promote animal advocacy; a graph itemizing the number of land animals killed for the United States meat supply in 2010 (happily and aptly titled “How many animals does a vegetarian save?“); and another chart explaining “The paradoxical increase in the use of primates in research.”

Already a popular blog (where I have been?!), Counting Animals is a website I could get lost in. In fact, I have, even in the process of writing this blog entry, been thoroughly drawn in — thanks to the compelling numbers, accessible (even to me) charts and visuals, and clever rhetoric — and I have already been inspired to bookmark several pages.

I realize that practically everyone has a blog these days. But what I particularly love about Speciesism in Art and Counting Animals is that the creators of these projects took their special talents and backgrounds and plugged them into a way to reach people with issues affecting animals, and they did so full-throttle. When it comes to changing the world for animals, the two tools that these blogs employ — art and stats — are among the most powerful we have.

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