Econic Media is an interactive art piece in the form of a website featuring four fictional news articles built to evoke powerful emotions towards topics related to human impacts on the natural world and climate change. The site does this by emulating an online news publication, adding a layer of realism to the otherwise fake stories. Each "article" is based on existing articles from CNN, ABC, and other outlets that report on instances in which wild or farmed animals died as a result of human activities. However, on the Econic Media website, the pieces are changed significantly so that it appears as though they were written about humans, not animals, being killed by the same activities.
By replacing the animal subject of each article with a human, the reader instantly reads about each tragedy with more empathy for the victim, far more than the average person would feel towards an animal. Rage and anger are more easily evoked towards the people responsible for these unnecessary deaths even though the actions are exactly the same as they are towards animals and the loss of life is equally senseless.
Making humans the subject of each piece also exposes the differences in language used towards animals viewed as replaceable commodities as opposed to humans who are generally considered intrinsically valuable. In the original Reuters article about a flu outbreak at a chicken farm, the story reads, "The birds in the affected house at the farm were destroyed." This kind of language would be unacceptable to use towards humans or any living thing determined to be of value, thus it makes clear that the chickens killed by their unsafe living environments were not considered highly valuable by farm management. The word "destroyed" remains in the version on Econic Media referencing humans to make clear the parallels between the commoditization of animal lives and human lives in the context of capitalistic production.
At the end of each story is a disclaimer making clear that the story is fake in addition to context and additional reading regarding the topic of each "article." The site is meant to be just as much a blend between art and education as it is a blend between fiction and reality.
Julian Tineo - May 2021